The Mod­ern Jew­ish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat

Mered­ith L. Jacobs
  • Review
By – March 23, 2012

There’s no dearth of books on how to cel­e­brate Shab­bat. So being orig­i­nal was the first chal­lenge for this author, a for­mer pub­li­cist and moth­er of two. Her claims to fame are her web­site (www.modernjewishmom. com), news­pa­per col­umn, and series of Shab­bat work­shops for women’s groups on which this book is based. 

Jacobs draws on her tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish upbring­ing and cur­rent har­ried life to present myr­i­ad ideas for cel­e­brat­ing God’s day of rest. And some of her ideas are, indeed, orig­i­nal. They range from sim­ply light­ing can­dles before run­ning out on Fri­day night to ban­ning on Shab­bat all behav­ior that can poi­son the rest of the week. 

Jacobs’ approach is per­son­al, friend­ly, and for­giv­ing. Tips and insights are pre­sent­ed in shad­ed box­es through­out the book. Her chap­ter on crafts includes turn­ing an Altoid tin into a trav­el­ing Shab­bat box and mak­ing stamp-art kip­pot. Some oth­er chap­ters focus on cre­at­ing a Shab­bat mood in your home, recipes, and after-din­ner activ­i­ties. There are con­cise sum­maries of every Torah por­tion fol­lowed by dis­cus­sion ques­tions to spark engag­ing table talk. A glos­sary of Yid­dish and Hebrew words and a resource list are included. 

The book seems tar­get­ed most­ly toward moms of younger chil­dren but includes a chap­ter called Oy, teens,” which sug­gests, among oth­er things, invit­ing your adolescent’s friends to your Shab­bat meal. Of course, I read this chap­ter and the one on cre­at­ing shalom bay­it (peace in the home) after my 14-year-old slammed her door in my face. Again. 

What are you read­ing now?” said daugh­ter asked that evening, upon notic­ing my review copy of this book. Is it any good?” 

Yeah, it’s got some pret­ty good ideas.” 

Like what?”

It tells how to bake chal­lah. Wan­na give it a try?”

Do we have to?”

No. But it would be fun.”


Oy, teens.

Robin K. Levin­son is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and author of a dozen books, includ­ing the Gali Girls series of Jew­ish his­tor­i­cal fic­tion for chil­dren. She cur­rent­ly works as an assess­ment spe­cial­ist for a glob­al edu­ca­tion­al test­ing orga­ni­za­tion. She lives in Hamil­ton, NJ.

Discussion Questions