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About the SabbathShare

Friday Evening

Isidor Kaufmann (Austrian, b. Hungary, 1853-1921)

Friday Evening, c. 1920

  • Oil on canvas
  • 28 5/8 x 35 7/8 in. (72.7 x 91.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. M. R. Schweitzer, JM 4-63

Not on view

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Friday Evening

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Friday Evening

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The Sabbath offers a respite from the demands of everyday life, a time when Jews refrain from work. On the Sabbath, rest, reflection, and ritual help to create what the philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel called a "palace in time." Every seven days, observant Jews take a break from the physical world and recharge their spiritual batteries.

Ritual and ritual objects are essential to creating this temporal "palace." The Sabbath begins on Friday evening with the lighting of the Sabbath candles. In the synagogue, a special prayer service welcomes the "Sabbath Queen" with psalms of praise. The Sabbath table, with its braided challah and wine cup, symbolizes the altar on which the ancestors of the Jewish people made bread offerings in the ancient Temple every Sabbath. At the close of the Sabbath, on Saturday evening, the havdalah ceremony marks the return to the work week. Havdalah, which means "separation," acknowledges the distinction between the holy and profane with wine, flame, and sweet-smelling spices.