Attention busy parents, everywhere: There’s a new Shabbat guru in town, and her name is Mila Kunis.
The actress, who is married to Ashton Kutcher and is mom to Wyatt, 4, and Dimitri, 2, recently dished to actor/podcast host Dax Shepard about how her family always makes time to do Shabbat on Friday nights.
“I love the idea of — regardless of where we are in the world, regardless of what we’re doing, on Friday night, we take a minute to just acknowledge one another,” she says, “to acknowledge our children, to acknowledge our family, say I love you, apologize for all the dumb shit that we did, and move on.”
Kunis, born to a Jewish family in Kiev, Ukraine, was only 7 when her family left the Soviet Union for America in 1991 on a religious refugee visa.
She started acting to learn English. And, clearly it worked: In 1998, at age 14, she was cast on That ’70s Show. There, she met Kutcher, who played her love interest on the show… and, well, in 2012 they began dating IRL and married in 2015.
On the July 22, 2018 episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, Kunis spoke with Shepard for nearly three hours. But her anecdotes about Shabbat really got our attention.
Chatting with Shepard, Kunis explains the importance of Shabbat to her family, first stating, “I’m not religious, at all, but Ashton is.” (For the record, Kutcher, who was raised in a conservative Catholic family, started practicing Kabbalah sometime in his late 20s. He has not converted to Judaism, however.)
She says, “When we started dating, Ashton was very religious,” and she was “not religious whatsover.” So she told him, “listen buddy, I love you, so very much, let’s like find a happy medium here.”
And what was that happy medium? Shabbat.
She tells Shepard that even though “normal Shabbats are hours long, and require a lot of work,” her family’s Shabbat is just about spending time together. “Our kids are going to get older, and they’re not gonna want to spend time with us. Just what happens,” she adds. “Too bad, so sad, you’re going to have dinner with us. So that, to me, was like — Friday night, we’re all going to get together, and we’re all just going to talk. And we’re gonna talk about the week.”
So on Shabbat, the whole family sits down together. Kunis puts it quite beautifully: “Nobody’s gonna wanna talk. My boy’s probably going to want to play video games, my girl’s gonna shun me, but on Friday night, we’re all gonna sit down, and we’re going to look each other in the eye, and say I love you, and [ask] what did you do this week, just reconnect for a minute. Like, that’s the long haul of it.”
Even though her kids have “the attention span of gnats” — which makes their Shabbat tradition about five minutes long — she still believes in the importance of the weekly ritual. “You light two candles… one’s for the mom, one’s for the dad,” she explains. “You light the light, you combine the light, you say a nice little prayer, you say a prayer for your children, you say a prayer…for the bread, we do a couple blessings, it’s literally minutes long, and then we just apologize for whatever we did that week that upset one another, then you kind of just move [on].”
Kunis, furthermore, says her kids know all the blessings in Hebrew. And she only says the lighting of the candles part, and the rest is said by Kutcher. (Kunis speaks Russian with her children, and plans on raising them bilingual.)
Here’s to lots of shalom in the Kunis-Kutcher home!
Header Image via Armchair Expert Podcast.