Question:

I need help. My family has always enjoyed Shabbat meals, and I light the Shabbat candles. Now we have decided to become totally Shabbat observant. Problem is, I am a professional. I work a lot. Quitting is not an option, and I leave work on Fridays barely in time to arrive home by sundown.

How can I possibly prepare Shabbat? Can we ever have anyone over? Frankly, worrying about Shabbat all week is stressing me out, and it seems to be contrary to the entire Shabbat spirit.

I would really appreciate practical tips from women who have actually had to deal with these issues.

Answer:

It’s great that you have made the decision to be Shabbat-observant; Shabbat is such a blessing, if it didn’t exist it would have to be invented! I realize it is hard, but know that you are not alone; there are many Jewish women in your position who are able to juggle both. Here are some suggestions; let me know if they work for you or not!

  • Prepare for Shabbat during the week. If you bake challah, bake it on Sunday. Make the chicken or meat on a weeknight, and freeze it. Chicken soup (without the veggies) freezes excellently. Even potato kugel freezes well. All you have to do on Friday afternoon, then, is get it all warmed up.
  • Get a crockpot (there are many on the market available at quite reasonable prices), and put in the chicken/meat and potatoes or rice in the morning. By the time you come home, you will have a piping hot Shabbat meal ready and waiting. Fish takes only a few minutes to prepare, and if you eat gefilte fish, you can buy jars of it ready made to save more time.
  • Set the Shabbat table on Thursday night, so that the candles and all you need will be ready when you get home—one less thing to do when you’re rushing before Shabbat.
  • About guests: you don’t have to have a five-course meal in order to have guests. Try inviting one or two people over, and see how it goes. I’m sure you and your family will enjoy having guests over.
  • Finally, many women and men who are Shabbat-observant are able to compromise with their workplaces in the following manner: during winter months, when Shabbat comes in so early, they either come in earlier on Friday, stay later on other days, or work a bit on Sunday to make up for the extra couple of hours they take off in order to be home at a decent time before sundown. Perhaps see if you can work something out with your office along those lines.

I know you can do it!

Chani Benjaminson, for Chabad.org