• Whereas the Saturday on our calendars begins at midnight, the Jewish Shabbos begins on Friday at sunset. It ends about twenty-five hours later, on Saturday at nightfall. Therefore, the beginning and end times for Shabbos fluctuate according to the season: it starts early and ends early in the winter, and starts later and ends later in the summer.
• Jews usher in Shabbos by lighting candles on Friday evening, several minutes before the sunsets. These lights set a festive tone and honor the day of Shabbos in a distinctive way. They also convey a symbolic sense of serenity that many Jews associate with Shabbos. When a Jewish couple lives together, it is the woman who traditionally lights the candles.
• A Jewish patient in the hospital might ask to light Shabbos candles on Friday evening. While the normative Jewish custom is to kindle authentic flames, Jewish patients can light battery-operated candles in hospitals that do not permit open flames.
A DAY OF REST
Shabbat is an island in time, a day of rest in the rush of activity that engulfs the other six days of the weekly cycle. For 25 hours — from sundown Friday evening to nightfall Saturday night — we cease all creative involvement with our surroundings, transcend the worries and struggles of our daily existence, and enjoy the divine tranquility of G‑d's day of rest.
We all know the story of how G‑d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. But creation was not a one time event. It is an ongoing process: G‑d is continually creating our world in a cosmic cycle of work and rest. By resting on Shabbat, we bring our own lives in sync with the divine cycle of creation. We attest to G‑d's creation of the world, affirm our own role as G‑d's "partners in creation," and bring wholeness, holiness and purpose into our lives.