Candle Lighting in the Zoom Era

Have you noticed that we haven’t been lighting Shabbat candles at our services on Zoom? In part, it’s because Shabbat and holiday candle lighting are traditionally a home ritual, not a congregational ritual. The Shabbat song Shalom Aleichem is rooted in a text from the Talmud (BT Shabbat 119b) that says that two angels join us in our homes on Friday night. If the home is prepared for Shabbat and the candles have been lit, then the “good” angel declares, “So may it be for next Shabbat!” If however the home is not prepared for Shabbat and candles have not been lit, the “bad” angel gets to make the same declaration. The early Reform rabbis, seeing that the members of their congregations were no longer participating in this home ritual, moved candle lighting, kiddush (blessing wine), and motzi (blessing bread) to the sanctuary to include more Jews in this tradition. Now that we all experience worship from our own homes, we have the unique opportunity to bring Shabbat candle lighting back into our homes.

If you miss candle lighting at the start of services, why not share your home candle lighting with us? Please consider signing up to be a candle lighter at an upcoming Zoom Friday night service. You may choose to do this in memory of a loved one for whom you’re observing yahrzeit that week, in honor of a celebration in your life, or just because you want to engage in this ritual. Please contact Karen Hindall in the office (karen @ bethaam.org) and we’ll send you the link to sign up.

Want to learn the candle lighting blessing? You can find it on our website! It’s here–track 42, the last track. You can find the words here.

Photo by Elizabeth Explores on Unsplash

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