When COVID-19 shut the world down, we suddenly found ourselves guinea pigs in a giant experiment of forced isolation. A second pandemic soon followed: loneliness.

We know that humans are social creatures, but being alone for too long can literally make one sick. Research has shown a correlation between loneliness and negative health outcomes. A few minutes of laughing with a friend produces “happy hormones,” like serotonin and dopamine, and boosts immunity. Scientists have also observed that people with greater social networks live longer and recover from illness faster.   

It is no coincidence that in every culture around the world there are special days intended to bring people together and foster a sense of community. As we have learned this year, we need those special days surrounded by friends in the same way that we need our daily vitamin.

We know kids need connection as much as adults do. As a reminder, introduce them to Clarence the raccoon, who loves Shabbat, in Clarence’s Topsy-Turvy Shabbat. As he gathers the ingredients to make challah, Clarence makes new friends through a series of silly mix-ups. It all turns out well in the end because his friends make preparing—and enjoying—the Shabbat meal so much more fun.

Clarence’s Topsy-Turvy Shabbat is a sweet reminder that friends can be one of the most important ingredients in a meal, especially on Shabbat.