What are practical guidelines or tips to have in mind when hosting a non-Jew on Shabbos?

Examples would be

  • explain to them they shouldn't touch the lights, e.g., in the bathroom
  • making sure they don't touch non-mevushal wine (while being careful not to offend them)
  • asking them not to take pictures or answer their cell phones
  • possibly asking them not to bring gifts (to avoid issues with fresh flowers, non-kosher food)

What else?

  • Are they going to be driving to the meal?
    – Joel K
    Jan 13, 2020 at 10:09
  • They are non Jews. But I’d guess yes if it makes a difference
    – mbloch
    Jan 13, 2020 at 10:10
  • Similar sefaria.org/Mishnah_Beitzah.3.2
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Jan 13, 2020 at 10:17
  • Most of the problems are the same for a non religious Jew
    – kouty
    Jan 13, 2020 at 10:48
  • Warn them about the order of events (Hebrew songs, then Kiddush, but still no eating, silence after netilat yadayim, then Motzi, in Hebrew) and all the regimented, ritualistic behaviors (bread in salt etc).
    – rosends
    Jan 13, 2020 at 11:12

1 Answer 1


I have non-Jewish guests fairly often (board games are a good way to spend Shabbat afternoon...). Here are some things I do:

  • Wine: just use mevushal. Why risk either offense or waste? Your human guests are way more important than having the nicest possible wine.

  • I use a "night light" in each bathroom rather than leaving the regular lights on. It's way too easy to instinctively turn the lights off when leaving the room, even if you've been told about the Shabbat/lights issue. Besides, the night light is, I think, 4 watts, versus leaving a regular light on for all of Shabbat. (I do this every week, not just when I'm having guests.)

  • I ask them to leave the phone in the pocket/purse/backpack/whatever so that we won't be distracted as we celebrate. A non-Jew using a cell phone doesn't put the host in a halachically problematic position; it's just a distraction. So cast the request in terms of that distraction, and if it happens, don't make a big deal out of it. (If they want to take pictures or record singing, a gentle "please don't" should suffice -- people can be reluctant to be recorded or photographed for all sorts of reasons, and people are generally aware of this fact in my experience. Your guests are, presumably, people who don't want to make their hosts uncomfortable.)

  • I tell them that we're not expecting food contributions, but if they want to bring something, get something labeled "pareve". If it's labeled "pareve" then it has a hechsher, after all. (I haven't had the fresh-flowers problem so haven't thought about it.)

  • I give them a heads-up about the ritual aspects of the meal, just so they won't be surprised and uncomfortable. I cast this as saying that we say some special prayers before and after the meal in Hebrew, we don't expect them to participate, and if they feel they should, they get full "credit" by saying "amein" so they can do that and not tackle a language they don't read.

  • I invite them to ask questions. This conveys that I don't mind questions and acknowledges that some things might be strange to them and that's ok.

  • 1
    This is very helpful - thank you
    – mbloch
    Jan 15, 2020 at 3:31
  • Any gift they bring would be problematic because you can't accept a gift on shabbos
    – nosh
    Jan 16, 2020 at 12:06
  • 1
    Really? I thought gifts of food (at least) are commonplace. Are you referring to other gifts? Jan 16, 2020 at 14:17

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