Shabbat - the Jewish day of rest

In short...

Themes: Judaism; Shabbat; celebrating world religions and the Ten Commandments.

Summary: This assembly could be used as part of a series about Judaism. Shabbat - the day of rest - is celebrated every week, so this assembly is suitable to use throughout the year. Children may benefit from some prior knowledge of Judaism.

The video

Charlie describes what Shabbat means to him and his family. He explains that keeping Shabbat holy is one of the Ten Commandments and part of the Jewish agreement with God.

Charlie explains that no electric or electronic items can be used during Shabbat - he's unable to watch TV, play computer games or use his mobile.

One of Charlie's favourite times during Shabbat is the meal on Friday night, which includes the lighting of Shabbat candles, the 'kiddush' (a special ceremony to sanctify wine or grape juice) and 'challah' (special bread).

Duration: 03' 48"

End of speech: ''s a new week.'

Video questions

  • According to the Bible what did God do on the 7th day? (He rested.)
  • When does Shabbat begin? (Every Friday at sunset.)
  • How long does Shabbat last? (25 hours.)
  • What can't Charlie do on Shabbat? (Do anything involving electrical or electronic items - eg can't turn on lights, use the oven, play with computer games or use mobile phones.)
  • What does Charlie think are good things about Shabbat? (Playing games, candles, no homework, singing, family gathering, chicken dinner, bread and juice, time to talk, an extra meal, time to ponder, a fresh start for a new week...he finds plenty to like about Shabbat!)
  • How does Charlie's mother welcome Shabbat? (She lights candles, says a blessing in Hebrew, and enjoys a special meal with all the family.)

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
Shabbat meal

Suggested framework

1. Entry music The focus of the assembly is thinking about what is important - our 'needs' as opposed to our 'wants'. Choose any song that aims to identify what is important (eg 'The bare necessities'). Alternatively there are many songs associated with Shabbat that are available online and plenty of other traditional Jewish music also.

2. Introduction Begin by referring to the lyrics of the song you have chosen. Ask the children to volunteer suggestions for 'What we need' and 'What we want'. You may wish to explore with them which list certain suggestions belong in if there is any doubt. You could list the suggestions by writing them on a board, or by asking one or more children to do this. Discuss what everybody needs as necessities and then what we want as luxuries. Ask whether the children think their ideas on what is essential and what is a luxury will change as they get older. How? Explain that the children are going to watch a short video about Shabbat - the Jewish day of rest - and encourage everyone to think about what the video has to say about the important things in life.

3. The video Play the video. The duration is 3' 48" and the final words are: '...start fresh. It's a new week.' The video can be paused at appropriate times to ask the Story questions or leave them until after the video to become part of the discussion.

4. After the video Pose the Video questions to consolidate recall of the video. You could also display the image called 'Shabbat meal' (see 'Key links'). 1. According to the Bible, what did God do on the 7th day? 2. When does Shabbat begin? 3. How long does Shabbat last? 4. What can Charlie not do during Shabbat? 5. What does Charlie say is good about Shabbat? 6. How does Charlie's mother welcome Shabbat?

5. Discussion After the questions move on to a more general discussion, which might include some of the following questions: 1. We can see that Jewish families need to be very organised before Shabbat. What difficulties might happen? 2. What electrical item would you struggle to live without - even for one day? 3. How do you make quiet time for yourself to rest? 4. Charlie admits that it is tempting to play with his phone or other electrical items. What advice could you give him to avoid being tempted? 5. Do you think we should live without luxury for a time in order to appreciate it? 6. What does the celebration of Shabbat tell us about what is truly important?

6. Opportunity to sing An opportunity to sing your chosen song. Suggestions from BBC collections below.

7. Opportunity to reflect 'We've thought today 'wants' and 'needs'...the things we really need in life...and the things we merely want... And we've heard what it's like to give up luxuries for a day and take some time to rest during our busy lives and think about what's truly important... If you could create the world again, imagine what you would do differently... What would you keep the same..? What changes would you make..? How would you improve life..?

8. Opportunity for prayer These thoughts could also be turned in to a prayer, using your standard form of address (Dear God, Lord Jesus…) 'Thank you for all the things that make our lives colourful and exciting. Help us to find space in our busy lives to think about what we truly need and what is truly important. When we are tired help us to find rest...and when we are rested help us to begin again with renewed energy. Amen.'

Suggested songs

SongCollectionSignificant words
'Shalom'Come and Praise, no 141 - see related links'Shalom, Shalom, May peace be with you' / Throughout your days'