The Traditional Jewish Sabbath Dinner

Jewish family gathers for Sabbath dinner
Bill O'Connell / Getty Images

Sabbath Dinner Experience:

The Jewish Day of Rest, Shabbat in Hebrew, begins on Friday at sundown and ends on Saturday at sundown. At the Friday night dinner, Jewish families transition from their everyday lives to a more spiritual time. Tables are set with white tablecloths and good dishes. Candles, wine, and challah loaves, which are needed to perform Sabbath religious rituals, are placed on the table.

Enjoy this traditional Friday night Sabbath dinner menu.


Making challah, traditional Jewish egg bread, is not as difficult as its final braided shape makes it appear to be. And any effort that is invested in making challah is well worth the result! The smell and taste of freshly baked challah can turn a house into a home.

Classic Gefilte Fish:

At the time of the Mishna (200 CE), rabbis deemed it meritorious to eat fish on the Sabbath. Due to the plethora of rivers in Europe, Ashkenazi Jews tended to cook with freshwater fish. Eastern European Jews would make a mixture of chopped fish, stuff it back into the skin of the fish, and boil it. The word gefilte means stuffed in Yiddish.

Chicken Turkey Soup:

Chicken soup is "embedded deeply in the Jewish psyche", according to Jewish food historian Oded Schwartz. Turkey can be added to the chicken for additional iron and flavor. I recommend serving this Chicken Turkey Soup with Matzo Balls.

Barbecue Glazed Chicken and Potatoes:

I like to serve chicken with potatoes for Friday night Sabbath dinner. I like the fresh, home-cooked aroma it lends to the home, as well as the fresh, home-cooked taste. On Saturday, when food is reheated (rather than freshly cooked) in accordance with Judaism's Sabbath cooking laws, kugels or rice work better than potatoes as side dishes.

Roasted Asparagus:

Roasted Asparagus is the perfect side dish for any Sabbath or Jewish holiday meal. It is easy to make, and the color and taste complement meat main dishes.

Mousse Cake:

Pareve cakes are an important part of a kosher recipe collection because they allow one to finish a festive meat meal with a festive dessert. This sweet, moist mousse cake is the perfect ending to a Sabbath family meal.

Sabbath Evening Home Rituals:

  • Blessing Shabbat Candles
  • Blessing Wine
  • Blessing Children
  • Blessing Bread