Is there anything I need to be aware of during Shaabath (as Rav Yom Tov Glaser rightfully got the correct pronunciation innate) when I am with gentiles? For instance, let's say I spend time with my non-Jewish Russian father and Shabbath comes around the corner, I'm staying at his place overnight. Apart from the prohibitions, how am I to behave?

It sounds odd but ever since I've became (somewhat) more religious, I tried to isolate myself as much as possible during Shaabath. Used to go to shul but later on, I spend Shaabath in solitude. And now that the time comes near, it feels kinda weird to be put in a situation in which I, one Jew among gentiles, spend Shaabath with non-Jews.

So to sum it up: is there anything noteworthy how a Jew must behave during Shaabath when among gentiles?

  • related, related
    – msh210
    Jan 17, 2019 at 21:13
  • Do you have a reason to think it should be different from how you spend Shabbath among Jews?
    – Alex
    Jan 18, 2019 at 0:19
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    The biggest challenge I've faced in this situation is keeping conversation limited to Shabbat appropriate topics without sounding like a jerk. Gentiles can get that you're not allowed to do melacha at a certain point, but not talking about business, sports, the future, etc is really hard. Jan 18, 2019 at 5:18
  • @Alex: I feel like yes. It might be just a subjective feeling without any objective reasoning behind it (Torah and neither our sages speak about this topic specifically as far as I know) but it's just weird being the lone Jew among gentiles, holding his Shaabath while everyone arounds lives in another world. At times it is such a transcending feeling if observed correctly. Anyways. It's all just a new experience that I have to get familiar with. I think some gentiles are compassionate and full of empathy towards us and Shabbath (if we just show them how it's done). But I'm afraid some are not
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 6:03
  • @Josh K: as I conciously avoid talking with other people on Shabbath, I imagine this being a big challenge aswell. My limited conversations with gentiles at my students dormitary were somewhat awkward. They know I am a Jew but I feel like they don't really feel the importance of it. It makes those unexpected talks (lets say I have to go to the kitchen and get my food) incredibly awkward. It just feels off and somewhat wrong. It takes me out of the full experience and reminds me of the mundane. I don't want that.
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 6:07

3 Answers 3


Spending Shabbat with non-Jews, or Jews who aren't Shomer Shabbat, can be difficult. I think the best idea would to avoid being put in such a situation. But if you can't, make sure:

  • kosher food will be avaliable.
  • People in the household (like your father) have a working understanding of what can and cannot be done on Shabbat. (If your father exhibits a hostile attitude towards your observance, emphasize what you CAN do versus what you can't. For example, "We can't go for a drive but we could go for a walk instead.")
  • That the people in the household will not perform melachah just for you (this is especially crucial in a house where the people are Jewish, but just not Shomer Shabbat).
  • You can create an environment for yourself to remind yourself it's Shabbat. For example, bring along sefarim to read. Immerse yourself in the parshat hashavua. Make sure to keep your conversations Shabbat friendly. No politics, sports, business, etc.
  • Bring along things you'll need for the rituals. Bring grape juice/wine along. Have hot meals for the Shabbat Seudot. It's probably the best idea that you have mevushal wine to ensure nothing goes wrong. But pour your father a glass and serve him a nice meal, show him what Shabbat IS and what it means and does for you, not what it doesn't. (As mentioned above, focus only on the positive).
  • Show people around you that your Shabbat observance isn't a burden, but is truly a menuchah (rest).
  • If possible, go to a shul or frum family nearby and spend some time there. There's nothing like community. If not, stick to the prayers at the house, but make sure to find a room where you won't be disturbed and also where there is nothing problematic making it impossible to pray there (example, a cross hanging on the wall, a bathroom).
  • Constantly remind yourself throughout the day that it's Shabbat. Look down at your tzitzit every now and then, grab them and say "It's Shabbat Kodesh". Before doing anything, ask yourself, "Can I do this on Shabbat?"

This is just some advice coming from someone who has spent many Shabbatot among non-Jewish family and non-Shomer Shabbat Jews (family and not).

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    Thanks for the input! If there is a cross (or rather russian orthodox icons as far as I remember from the last time) and I don't look at them more than once (which is unwillingly spotting their positions and then avoid putting my gaze on them), would that pose a problem? It might be that I even have to sleep in a room full of them (icons, not crosses). Luckily, the driving/tv/electronics aspect of it shouldn't be a problem. Post soviet russian environment. Unfortunately, there is no shul around in that particular city as far I remember, but I might be surprised.
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:49
  • And on a totally different side note (which might apply to the given situation): I pretty much ALWAYS use my phone every single Shaabath to induce myself in Torah and Jewish literature. I got to the routine where I read the Parsha, its summaries (in a nutshell and rather indepth aliyah readings) and a bit of its mystical association (the input from our sages). It all happens on chabad.org and mind you, I preload all the necessary sites via network before Shaabath starts and totally disconnect and mute my phone from anything else after It starts. I have no physical Jewish literature.
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:54
  • @Anonymous There would be a problem with the icons in the room, perhaps you could try covering them. You could also use the garage to pray (that's what I've done). Outside could be an option too.
    – ezra
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:58
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    @Anonymous As for the phone, do what you can, using a phone on Shabbat is prohibited, but grow at your own pace.
    – ezra
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:58
  • What about sleeping in such a room? I was actually hoping for an opportunity to be in solitude outside, like in nature. But unfortunately, if we're going to stay in the city, solitude outside won't be an option. Praying in the courtyard when surrounded by those tall buildings full of windows and potential observes really lessens the focus and awareness as compared to when I'm completely by myself with haShem. That is only possible in nature, far away.
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 6:12

I would suggest something different - making Kiddush Hashem.

Besides all the Halochos Ezra rightfully mentioned, I would recommend focusing on your father's perception of your Shabbos:

  • Does keeping Shabbos make you really happy? Do you really like Shabbos and not only perform those chores as a burden on you?

  • Does it make your father be proud of you and your religiosity? Is that something your father can mention before his friends?

  • Does Shabbos bring extra peace in the house or the opposite? It's common with Baale Teshuvah that Shabbos always comes at expense of Shlom Bays. Remember "כל שרוח הבריות נוחה הימנו, רוח המקום נוחה הימנו" (Avos 3)

  • As Halachicly you're not obligated to honor your biological father, we're afraid he could claim "my son went from a more stringent religion to a more lenient (toward honoring parents)", as Russians are well known for respecting their parents, and that could cause a huge Hilul Hashem. So one has to consult a Rabbi on how to balance between the Halacha and honoring the father- what Chumros can be omitted (temporarily of course).

  • • Shaabath brings in me forth feelings far deeper than 'happy' or 'sad'. As aforementioned with ezra in the comments, it has the potential to truly be somewhat transcendant. It is a state that I'd like to describe as disconnect from the physical and connect the spiritual. Hence (from my perspective) encounters are somewhat awkward and kinda detrimental in keeping myself in that special state. • He knows very much how much of a disgusting sh*tbag I used to be. Trying to deny my Judaism. Trying to deny myself. Trying to assimiliate (this pathetic period of mine can be summoned up with 'retard')
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 15:16
  • And ever since I was brought back to the (hopefully) rightful path, my sense of Jewishness grew and I really did went a bit overboard with certain things and I assume he knows and respects me very much for me being somewhat strong with my yiddishkeit (again, I at least hope so. I'm still far away from truly greatness) • To be honest, I'm not familiar with the term 'Bays'. Peace at home? I've been living in a small room in a big dormitary and this was never an issue. Lack of experience there. • Doesn't Torah tell us to honor both of our parents? But apart from that, I think that is the least
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 15:21
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    worry I have. Communication and just being in a new setting (the Jewish son of a non-Jew stays over at a completely non-Jewish home for a week) during Shaabath might be initially somewhat awkward. The time for this test will arrive soon. But for now, it's getting darker and darker by the minute. Shaabath is around the corner. In that sense: Good Shaabath!!!
    – Ilja
    Jan 18, 2019 at 15:25

Shabbos with gentiles can be spiritual in a different way. Hashem echad, and He can be revealed everywhere. You probably have an obligation to honour your gentile father, though it would best to consult a Rov. Try eating with him for seudas shelishi, the peak of shabbos. He can reveal to you deep secrets.

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