Study and Theory/
Sabbath

Lighting Candles on Friday Nights, Yes or No

Kibbutz Sha'ar Ha'amakim 1972

While formulating the guidelines of a new cultural committee the problem of designing our Shabbat Welcoming ceremonies was raised. Most of the committee members viewed the candle lighting ceremony in positive light but believed it would be appropriate to prepare public awareness of it.

Nechama: When I first joined the cultural committee, one of my goals was to instill a greater degree of our tradition (without focusing on religion) since we had done away with all of the tradition from our homes, we had attempted to give our holidays a new character, and did not always succeed at that. This desire to drastically change the past, stemming from insecurity, sometimes excludes the main points – the background and the contents of the holiday.

From this we had construed an idea to suggest the Shabbat candle lighting ceremony. That we cover the table with a white cloth, flowers and candle sticks, near a decorated and appropriate wall. The candle lighting ceremony would be accompanied by a passage from Jewish legends or fiction and a musical chapter. It is also desirable to observe the custom in the children's home, but if we don't hold it in the dining room, it has no educational value. Of course, in kibbutzim that hold communal meals on Friday nights, the ceremony fits in more naturally.

 

Leah Goren: It's interesting why there is a reason for indecision particularly regarding the candle lighting question, more than any other religious acts, and why it is accepted in the secular society more than any other custom – it seems like a lit candle arouses within us associations to big moments of our lives, and elicits feelings of spiritual elation and communion. Lit candles also evoke feelings of warmth and have a strong emotional impact on us. Therefore, personally, I agree to accept candle lighting as an element that would contribute to the value of Shabbat and elevates it. And if as adults, it's already difficult to become associated with this custom, it's possibly a good idea to begin with small children, with whom the beautiful experience of the candles would be associated with Shabbat.

 

Dani Goren: In order that the name, "Welcoming the Shabbat", would not be void of any contents, and would be unique compared to the rest of the weekday evening events, we ought to hold candle lighting ceremonies.

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Chagim Center

Home for the Jewish Holidays

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