Written by Steve Mosco, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 27 February 2014 11:35
A local temple is joining in one of the biggest days of rest in the Jewish calendar.
Plainview’s Temple Chaverim welcomes members of the community to participate in an inspiring display of Jewish revitalization and Jewish Unity with the 18th annual Shabbat Across America set for Friday, March 7 at 6:30 p.m.
Conceived and organized by the National Jewish Outreach Program in 1997, Shabbat Across America represents a united effort by the entire Jewish community, more than 70,000 across North America, to renew interest in the fourth of the Ten Commandments — observing a weekly day of rest.
“This event brings us back to the idea that Shabbat can be unifying for us despite our differences,” said Rabbi Debra Bennet, who has been with Temple Chaverim for about a year and a half. “The wonderful thing about Shabbat is that it gives us the opportunity to break from our regular schedules. We’re always rushing off and always busy. This is an opportunity to step back and find value in the community and those around us.”
Temple Chaverim, 1000 Washington Ave., will be one of approximately 700 synagogues nationally that will simultaneously open its doors to practicing and non-practicing Jews alike, so they may join together to experience in a traditional Shabbat service and traditional Shabbat Dinner. More than 944,000 people have participated in Shabbat Across America in the past. Community members will experience an interactive Friday night Explanatory Service and a traditional Shabbat dinner with all the rituals explained.
Eileen Schneyman, the Temple’s executive director, said attendees to the Shabbat event can expect a dinner and a service, as well as singing and an all around fun time.
“It will be kid friendly, but there will also be plenty for parents, couples and singles,” said Schneyman. “Shabbat is something that appeals to people across all demographic lines. And the experience is so much more enriching when we have multigenerational lines.”
Prompted by the growing rate of Jewish assimilation in North America, Shabbat Across America hopes to infuse thousands of non-practicing Jews with a sense of a greater commitment to Judaism. According to Temple Chaverim, of the 5.2 million North American Jews, 2.4 million no longer identify themselves as Jews, 1 million are unaffiliated with any Jewish organizations and 1.2 million are marginally affiliated, meaning they rarely attend synagogue and have little to do with Jewish life.
This program is designed to teach a generation of unaffiliated Jews about the significance of the Jewish Sabbath. Shabbat Across America is the first nationally orchestrated program to appeal to members of all major Jewish denominations. It is also the first and only program aimed at uniting Jews across the U.S. through one single event.
Rabbi Bennet said the Temple aims to demonstrate the positive effect Shabbat can have on all members of the Jewish faith.
“Shabbat helps us understand we can enrich the community by focusing on our relationships with one person at a time,” she said. “We look to create a setting that will enable people to reconnect with their roots and grow closer to their families. And it is about connecting, not through technology, but their face-to-face, human contact.” Temple Chaverim has more
than 1,000 members from the Plainview, Woodbury, Syosset, Old Bethpage, Melville, Jericho and Huntington community. Since 1981, Temple Chaverim has been an innovator in Jewish programming and education. This is their first year participating in the Shabbat Across America program.