Shabbat is a day of rest – a time of peace, of rejuvenation and reflection.  It is the day we remove ourselves from the routine, the trivial and the ordinary to immerse ourselves in the spiritual, the more meaningful and the more penetrating aspects of life.

To me, Shabbat has yet an additional meaning.  It is the anchor of continuity, the perpetuation of tradition, the embracing of family togetherness.  It is the passing down of the blessing of one’s children during the lighting of the Friday night candles and during the praying by the Kohanim during the Amidah.  It is the time for every generation to gather to review, to debrief and to update one another on the week’s happenings, to share one another’s experiences since the Shabbat before and to reflect on the meaning of those experiences. 

Every Friday night my family comes together to celebrate Shabbat.  There are discussions in advance of who the guests should be, what the menu should include, what favorites should not be forgotten.  Extensive conversations ensue on how to balance the valuable aspects of the traditional with unique and distinguishable elements to make the evening memorable and special.

Each Friday night after we say the prayers, sing together and revel in each other’s company, our grandchildren, aged six and four, scurry off to our bed to sleep over with “nana” and “beepa.”  Every Shabbat morning, we wake up to their warm bodies curled around ours, their welcoming the day with “someone turned the light on outside,” and their anticipation of warm challe left over from the night before.

Shabbat is a uniquely special day not to be taken for granted.  It brings back family memories of dinners at my parents on Friday night with the warmth glowing and the caring flowing.  It provides families of every generation an opportunity to regroup, to take stock of their relationship with one another, of their common joy in celebrating the weekly cycle. 

Shabbat provides a rooting, a grounding, an anchoring of generational bonding.  It provides four- and six-year-old children with an initial context of family values and continuity, a framework of rituals and traditions and a sense of comfort, caring and embrace that will linger throughout their lives as they form a sense of peoplehood and a commitment to extend the sanctity of Shabbat forward.

Janice Weinman

Executive Director/CEO

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With 300,000 members, associates and supporters Hadassah brings Jewish women together to effect change and advocate on critical issues such as women’s health equity and the security of Israel. Through the Hadassah Medical Organization’s two hospitals, the world-renowned trauma center and the leading research facility in Jerusalem, Hadassah supports the delivery of exemplary patient care to over a million people every year. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2005 for building “bridges to peace” through equality in medical treatment. For more information, visit


  • Janice Weinman

    Executive director/CEO, Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.

    Janice Weinman was appointed Executive Director / CEO of Hadassah in 2012. She came directly from her post as President of K.I.D.S., an organization supporting millions of children in need in communities across the United States and overseas. Prior to her position at K.I.D.S., she served as Vice President for External Affairs of The Mount Sinai Hospital / NYU Medical Center and Health System in New York. Weinman also previously served as Executive Director and of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She served in both the Carter and Clinton administrations. Among the many leadership positions Janice has held in civic and community organizations including serving an inaugural board member of the Hadassah Foundation, Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Chairman of the Board of the Women’s Leadership Board of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and member of the Visiting Committee of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She holds doctorate and master’s degrees from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University.