I have a bold statement to make.
Are you ready?
Okay, here it goes: Shabbat is the very best of all the Jewish holidays.
Some might say Chanukah (yes, latkes are very delicious), others may claim Passover (I mean, who doesn’t love hanging out with Elijah?) and many attest to Rosh Hashanah (hooray for round challot!). However, I would like to provide one vital piece of information to corroborate my claim.
Shabbat happens EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.
You just can’t beat that! Every Friday evening, we, as Jews, have the extraordinary responsibility to set aside our stresses, worries and anxieties; to power off our devices; to sit back, eat, sing, schmooze, be present and do the one thing that we (or maybe it’s just me) seem to have the most trouble doing in today’s iPhone-infused world: to just RELAX.
The Jewish people were given two commandments with regard to Shabbat: remember it (zakhor) and observe it (shamor). And I, for one, am deeply grateful to have this miraculous opportunity, every week, to be free from the frenzy of daily life and be present with the beauty of life’s simpler things.
But what do we do come summertime, when weekend getaways and family vacations make it hard to find time to embrace the Sabbath? Do we just give up and say, “Eh, I’ll celebrate next week”?
I say we celebrate every week! No matter where we are. That’s why I’m here to make it easy on you with this handy-dandy list of five simple tips to celebrate Shabbat-on-the-go this summer:
1. Bake challah.
If you have a soft, scrumptious, homemade challah, you can turn any ordinary Friday night into a special Shabbat dinner. To make it easy on yourself amongst all the packing and logistics, try Voilà! Hallah, an easy-to-make line of all-natural challah mixes, including Traditional, Wholey Wheat and Simply Spelt flavors, from JFE® friend Leah Hadad. Then wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap, cover it in tin foil and bam! You have yourself the perfect staple for any Shabbat meal.
2. Pack some subs.
Subs, wedges, hoagies, grinders, whatever you call them—these easy-to-make, easy-to-hold sandwiches are debatably one of the best meals to eat on the go. With zero cutlery required, all you need is to get some bread, lay it thick with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, condiments of your liking and delicious cold cuts, and you’re good to go. As the unintentional vegan that I am, I’ve fallen in love with Tofurky’s bologna cold cuts, which are absolutely delicious and 100-percent meat-free. Check out all of Tofurky’s cold-cut options here, and find them in almost any nearby grocery store.
3. Whip up some brownies.
In my mind, no Shabbat meal is complete without a little sweet treat to top of the evening. Chocolate Covered Katie has a black bean brownie recipe that is both free of all animal products and full of mouthwatering delectableness. In less than 20 minutes, you can whip up this unforgettable dessert, store it in a Tupperware container and be on your merry way to the beach, the campsite or your in-laws’ condo.
4. Power OFF.
Turn off your phone, your laptop, your iPad and any other forms of technology that impetuously tell you how more steps you need to walk before days’ end. Shutting down—even if just for the night—provides your mind with the peace and quiet it has been craving all week. If this is not something you already do on Shabbat, you’ll be shocked at what a life-changing difference unplugging can do for your soul.
5. Do something different!
Shabbat should feel entirely separate from any other day of your week. It’s your chance to unwind, reflect and recharge. So pick one tradition to incorporate into Shabbat that can travel with you anywhere. For me, that is stopping to reflect: to say what I am most grateful for in the past week and what I wish for myself or loved ones in the upcoming week. For you, it could be meditating, singing Shabbat songs or anything else you think of that may add some spirituality and mindfulness to your soul.
P.S. Don’t forget the essentials: tea-light candles and matches, a mini bottle of grape juice or wine, cups, napkins, plates, zip-top baggies to take home your food and, of course, your cellphone sleeping bag.