When our family first began to keep the Sabbath as a Holy day I was a little overwhelmed in trying to accomplish all my Sabbath preparations on time. As the weeks progressed, I was continually coming up short of time on Friday afternoon. I began to see the need to rearrange my entire weekly routine so we could prepare for a peaceful Shabbat rather than be exhausted when Friday evening arrived.

If we begin our week with anticipation of the Sabbath, then all our work for the week will lead up to a blessed rest day. The first day of our week is our farm work and home school planning day. This day sets in motion the Monday through Thursday school days.

We usually grocery shop on Wednesday afternoon. I check my pantry and determine what delicious menu items we will prepare for Friday evening and make sure that we have wine, grape juice, and all the baking supplies on hand to create the best dinner of the week.

Thursday is our baking day. We make two loaves of challah (braided bread) for the Sabbath table. We braid this bread with 12 pieces of dough representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Sometimes, instead of braiding we twist two pieces of dough together for the the Two Sticks of Ezekiel 37. We also bake a special dessert for Erev (Eve of) Shabbat and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We do our baking on Thursday because it makes such a mess in our kitchen. When we used to bake on Friday morning, but it took up too much time from our house cleaning. So we had to adjust the baking to the day before our main preparation day for Shabbat. On Thursday afternoon I also prepare something to eat for our fellowship gathering on Sabbath.

I really like Fridays. In our home we do a life-skills home school day and do a team work job of cleaning the house. We have our home divided into cleaning zones. Each one of our school aged children have a zone to keep up with during the week and they really make them shine on Friday morning. Since we currently have seven children who are able to work we have the house divided into seven zones. Ben, our eldest, is in charge of the second floor bedroom and the loft. Matt is responsible to clean the living room and sun room. John takes care of the kitchen and dining room. Sarah cleans the bathrooms and the master bedroom, Daniel cleans the main hallway and the little boy’s bedroom. Luke tidies up the yard and organizes the basement closet and garage area. Bethany, our 5 year old, cleans her room with my supervision. We try to keep Aaron, our pre-schooler helping someone so he is not making a mess while we are cleaning up.

To make sure that the children do a thorough house cleaning I have typed up lists for each zone so they know what they are supposed accomplish. When they are finished I check the list to make sure they have completed all their work. Then we go out to lunch and take a trip to the library. We return to a tidy home for nap time and read library books.

Late in the afternoon I begin dinner and we set the table with all the finery we have. In the spring and summer we pick flowers for our table. We set out our Sabbath candles and light an oil lamp in between the candles. We light the oil lamp early in case we are unable to come to the table before the sun sets. With the flame of the oil lamp we light our Shabbat candles. I like to keep the oil lamp burning all of Shabbat as a reminder that we are to be prepared as the five wise virgins for the return of Yahshua.

When we are ready for dinner we all come to the beautifully set table with the wine and grape juice poured and the challah placed near my husband for the blessings to be spoken. I live for this moment each day of the week.

Hanukkah is here, that special time of year. The time of bitter sweet rejoicing. A time for family. A time for rededication. A time to focus on the promise of the resurrection. A time to let your menorah shine before men.

Did you know that we are commanded to teach our children about Hanukkah? Look up the Scripture in Proverbs 22:6.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The Hebrew word for “train up” in this verse is chanuk. Chanuk (pronounced with a gutter “ch” – “h” sound) is the root word in Hanukkah and it means dedication. The Exegeses Bible puts it this way: Hanukkah up a lad. So we are encouraged by the Scriptures to teach our children about Hanukkah (Dedication) to the Lord Yahweh.

Here are some suggestions to make Hanukkah memories that will last a lifetime:

Read the story of Hannah and her seven sons from 2 Maccabees 7:1-42 and 4 Maccabees 8:1-18:21. The Maccabees books are found in the Apocrypha of some Bibles. It is a powerful teaching about one family’s dedication and determination to serve the God of Israel and Him only no matter what the cost. Hannah’s steadfast testimony for the Word of God is one of courage and endurance to the end.

Read the story of another family’s dedication to YHWH – the family of Mattithias also found in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Book of Maccabees.

During the time of the Maccabees the God-fearing Jews met together secretly to read and study Torah. To hide their activity from the king’s spies they would play a gambling game with a dreidel (spinning top with 4 Hebrew letters on it) so if an enemy would come to the door they would appear to be playing a game instead of reading the Scriptures. Try reenacting this by reading the Word of God together and keep your dreidel nearby. Have someone pretend to be an enemy soldier and try to conceal your Bible and pretend you are playing a game. See the Dreidel Game Code below. If you don’t have a dreidel, play Yahtzee instead.

Light a Hanukkah menorah each evening or try lighting an oil lamp for each of the 8 nights. Light one lamp the first night and increase the light until you have 8 lamps burning. The old fashioned metal oil lamps work especially well for this. Try setting them outside the front door of you home. If you have a mezuzah on the right side of your door, place the 1st lamp on the left side of your door. Continue adding lamps to the left of the first on each consecutive night of Hanukkah. This is what they did when Yahshua was a boy and is why the Hanukkah menorah is lit from right to left.

It is fun to exchange gifts for Hanukkah but if you are concerned about over commercializing the holiday, try gathering together and do special activities in the evening that you usually do not make time to do regularly. Try a family Lego building night or play board games, dominos, checkers, or cards. Playing together as a family by the light of the menorah burning is especially cozy on a cold winter night.

Part of the joy of Hanukkah is the story of the rededication of the temple and the relighting of the menorah oil. Therefore, special food fried in oil can make the holiday extra memorable. Make fried potato pancakes and serve them with sour cream. Or try making doughnuts, fried cheese sticks, or egg rolls.

Decorate with twinkle lights, candles, and menorahs. Create glitter posters with Biblical themes of light, such as,

“Yahshua is the Light of the World” and “The Light that Shines in the Darkness.”