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It’s about the joy – or oneg – of taking time out of your crazy week to stop, unplug and experience traditions that have helped keep our community together for thousands of years. But most of us find it hard to take that time. 

Jeanie Milbauer June 30, 2022 • 5 min read

Many people who are getting ready to celebrate Shabbat for the first time ask me the same question: If I’m supposed to be relaxing, why is this so much WORK?

It can feel overwhelming: the cooking, the cleaning, not to mention getting all of the ritual objects ready and making sure you didn’t accidentally forget something important.

A lot of times, as we’re rushing around trying to create the perfect Shabbat, we forget why we need Shabbat in the first place. I love a beautiful table, but not at the expense of what shabbat is about in the first place….

It’s not about trying to live up to some expectations of our ancestors.

It’s about taking the time to really sit and be present with your friends and family, without the distractions of pinging cell phones. It’s about the joy – or oneg – of taking time out of your crazy week to stop, unplug and experience traditions that have helped keep our community together for thousands of years.

When my kids were young, I was often excited for Shabbat to come but found Fridays overwhelming with all of the preparations. Sometimes, in a pinch, it can help to have a few shortcuts to make sure you get straight to the good stuff and don’t get bogged down in the details. 

That’s why, for example, I sometimes use premade chicken stock in my chicken soup — because I’m more likely to make homemade chicken soup if I can get a little help along the way (see my husband’s recipe here).

Shabbat isn’t a contest, and there’s no perfect way to do it. My hope for all of us is that we stop trying to be perfect. That’s why I created Oneg, a new initiative to help make Shabbat easier, more accessible, meaningful and – of course – fun!

One of our first offerings is a carefully curated “Shabbat Box,” which includes everything you need for Shabbat in a single place, including candlesticks, a challah cover, a kiddush cup and interactive guides for the blessings.

Oneg translates from Hebrew as “the Joy of Shabbat,” but for me, Oneg is about more than just joy. It’s about connection. The kind of connection that comes from deep conversations or retelling stories so funny you cry. Connection that is only possible when you take a conscious break from the rest of your life and put your energy towards the people who matter most to you.

This Oneg, this joy, has been so important to me over the years, and now I want to help as many people as possible discover it as well. So lean on us to take care of some of the details while you make sure to concentrate on what’s really the most important joy of Shabbat: connecting with the people you love.

“To be spiritual is to be amazed.”– Abraham Joshua Heschel