How to Celebrate Shabbat on Vacation

Vacation is the best, isn’t it? It’s a time to explore new places, take a break from the regular schedules of work and school, and be with your family. But what if celebrating Shabbat is part of your regular weekly routine, and you don’t want to put aside your family’s beautiful traditions just because you’re away from home? After all, being Jewish means you’re Jewish everywhere, not just at home or at synagogue.

Sometimes families think they have to choose between celebrating Shabbat and enjoying vacation. Whether you celebrate a strictly observant Shabbat every week or enjoy a low-key family night on the occasional Friday evening, you don’t have to miss out on Shabbat when you’re on a trip.

Here are some ways to take Shabbat with you when you’re traveling. It’s helpful to keep in mind that Jewish families celebrate Shabbat in different ways, so some of these suggestions might not necessarily apply to your family.

Make a Portable Shabbat Kit

Unlike holidays that involve significant dietary changes (like Passover) or building structures (Sukkot), Shabbat is extremely portable. All you really need are candles, a box of grape juice or small bottle of wine, and some challah.

To make your Shabbat kit even more travel-friendly, use battery powered LED tea lights for the candles. That way you don’t have to worry about bringing matches or leaving candles burning in a hotel room or at a campsite. You can also print a copy of the Shabbat blessings, which could be helpful even when you’re celebrating at home.

Build in Some Downtime

If you’re hoping to keep the restful spirit of Shabbat, what better time to rest and rejuvenate than while on vacation? For families who are active sightseers, you can try scheduling your vacation so that Shabbat falls in the middle of the trip, giving you a day halfway through the trip to recharge.

Find Community

Unless you’re in a very remote place, chances are good there’s at least a small Jewish community nearby. If you’re feeling adventurous, reach out to the local Jewish Community Center, a local synagogue, or in some cases, the local PJ Library office to find out about Shabbat services or meals happening in the city you’re visiting.

If your family uses electricity on Shabbat and you have a decent WiFi signal, you could also take advantage of any number of synagogues around the world (maybe even your own) that stream Shabbat services online. The Union for Reform Judaism provides a partial list of congregations that offer streaming.

Bring PJ Library With You

One of the best ways to keep the Shabbat spirit even when plans change is by reading your favorite Shabbat stories. Browse the PJ Library book list by holiday to find some great Shabbat titles to take along.

You can also set the mood for Shabbat with PJ Library Radio. Download the app or stream PJ Library Radio online and tune in to usher in Shabbat with beautiful music. You can also check out a playlist below:

 

Some families have the tradition of giving tzedakah before the start of Shabbat. If you’re so inclined, find a local charity where you’re vacationing you can donate to. Local nonprofits are involved in every field, from wildlife preservation to cultural arts and everything in between.

For a more tangible way to give back, you could also donate any unused toiletries from your hotel room.

More

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