What Do You Do On a Long Shabbos Afternoon “Out-Of-Town”?

I find that long Shabbos afternoons (over here, sunset can get as late as ~9 PM) present a type of programming problem; how can I seize the day and use the available time enjoyably for Jewishly meaningful activities? In our case, without young kids in the house, with extended families hundreds of miles away, and in a neighborhood sparsely populated with Jews (any type), I often descend into boredom by late afternoon.

Naps are not meant to fill the time available. The Hebrew and English seforim sit there wondering why I’m so lackadaisical about reading them, now when I have the time. Where’s the fiery enthusiasm I ought to have? Does it depend on others being around to engage in the give-and-take? That is very likely, but the potential “others” have their own family lives or worthy pursuits, or maybe their own forms of boredom.

So, I’ll throw this out to the readers here: What solutions have worked for you or your community under comparable circumstances to enrich the typical long Shabbos?

12 comments on “What Do You Do On a Long Shabbos Afternoon “Out-Of-Town”?

  1. Ivisit an elderly neighbor. She’s blind and wheelchair bound due to diabetes so she cant get out much but she’s still very with it mentally–she used to be a clinical psychologist and I enjoy her company. I find it makes my shabbos afternoon much richer.

  2. Depending on where you live, if you don’t have the responsibility for young kids Shabbat can also be a time for walks, visiting with neighbors (even if they aren’t shabbat observant you can manage to avoid doing any melachot yourself while visiting), and other forms of light physical activity. When you spend your days sitting behind a desk, as I do, you can really give yourself a lift just by getting outdoors. There’s nothing like nature to give you kavanah when you pray “Mah Rabu Maasecha, Hashem”.

  3. FYI, by “shallow” I meant books that do not present enough insight (for my curiosity) about the special inner nature of the people, places, and events covered, or are not well- documented to support what is said.

  4. I read a lot of parsha sheets, and biographical and story material. Sad to say, much of the material seems shallow and unoriginal. However, some is very good.

  5. If you can’t set up a chavrusa or otherwise “back-load” your heavier-duty learning to the late afternoon, such as a shiur before mincha (very common in most shuls, especially this time of year), maybe you should find pleasurable English-language Jewish “easy” reading such as biographies or those compendia of stories with Jewish themes and lessons that are all over the stores these days.

  6. I agree with you, summer days seem long in a community that is not very active. However you can read books you have set aside for Shabbes, print D’var Torah in advance, invite friends.

  7. Pardon my apikorsis, but I look forward to a long Shabbos afternoon so I can catch up on any of my reading, including an occasional good fiction I’ve wanted to read, Newsweek, the Cleveland Jewish News (hey, Ezzie, I also grew up in Cleveland), and printouts from websites such as this one, Crosscurrents, parshah stuff, Rabbihorowitz.com, etc. In fact, if someone shows up, I feel a little resentful at times, because Shabbos is the only day I can kick off my shoes, lie on the couch with my reading material, and not feel guilty about another task that I should really be getting done. And if you’re in a smaller community, do you have any Chabad around. Maybe do your own kiruv there. Go to a university Hillel (if you have one) and invite some college kids over. I know easier said than done.

  8. I’m not against naps! But they’re not meant to consume the major part of a long afternoon.

  9. Naps are not meant to fill the time available.


    I’m sorry, but the pillow emblazoned on the family crest begs to differ.

  10. I don’t know that this issue is specifically an “out of town” one – I find that the long Shabbos afternoons are as hard to fill here in KGH, even with the multitude of guests we have, as they were back in Cleveland growing up.

    I don’t know how much you pull these off in your shul, but since zman krias shema is later, getting shul to start later in the morning helps a little; having an early mincha and then doing Pirkei Avos with family or a shiur in shul is really good, too. Growing up that worked well – 9am davening, back home at about 12-1230, finish meal whenever, read/nap until about 6, mincha, shalosh seudos/pirkei avos until maariv, maariv.

  11. I don’t know how one defines “out of town” but in KGH there is a nice variety of shiurim for men and women and many shuls move Mincha back so that families and friends can enjoy Seudah Shlishis properly, which is not always possible in the short Shabbosos during the winter months. FWIW, there is nothing per se wrong about taking a nap. The Zmiros refer to “HaShenah Mshubachas”.

  12. How about inviting guests for shabbos (if you are able to). Try getting a very good book that you promise yourself you will only read on shabbos. Say Tehillim, or take a walk with a friend.

Comments are closed.