Ridgefield, Connecticut– On the evening of Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, members of the local Jewish community will gather at Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties in
Ridgefield, Connecticut– On the evening of Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, members of the local Jewish community will gather at Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties in a unique display of Jewish revitalization and unity.
Called Shabbat Across America and Canada, the collective event represents a united effort by the Jewish community to renew interest in the fourth of the Ten Commandments – observing a weekly day of rest, on Saturday, the Sabbath (called Shabbat in Hebrew).
ALL ARE WELCOME
Congregation Shir Shalom is among some 700 synagogues across the continent that will open their doors on Feb. 28 to practicing and non-practicing Jews alike, inviting them to jointly experience and rejoice in a traditional Shabbat service and festive meal.
The service also will honor those who have become congregants during the past year.
Led by Rabbi David Reiner of Congregation Shir Shalom, attendees will experience an interactive Friday night Explanatory Service and a traditional Shabbat dinner, with all the rituals explained.
There also will be a Hamantaschen Tasting — a triangular cookie with filling that is the signature food of the Jewish holiday Purim (March 9-10, 2020).
AN EVENTFUL SCHEDULE
The schedule at Shir Shalom for its Shabbat Across America program on Friday, Feb. 28 is as follows…
5:15 pm–6 pm > Welcome, small bites, and activity for children 6 and younger.
6 pm > “Spirited and Soulful” Shabbat worship with special musical guest Mark Fineberg.
7 pm > Communal Shabbat Dinner and Oneg Shabbat.
The Shir Shalom festivities are free and open to all members of the Jewish community. Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or (203)-438-6589. Congregation Shir Shalom is at 46 Peaceable Street, Ridgefield, Conn. 06877.
More than 1 million have participated in Shabbat Across America and Canada since its creation in 1997.
“We just cannot accept the common perception that North American Jewry is an endangered species,” commented Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, founder and director of NJOP (formerly National Jewish Outreach Program).
OUTREACH FOR CONNECTEDNESS
“The vast majority of Jews in this country have never participated in a traditional Sabbath experience,” continued Rabbi Buchwald, “and do not feel a connection to the Judaism that their grandparents practiced only half a century ago — but this should not be.”
Prompted by the growing rate of Jewish assimilation in North America, NJOP hopes that a memorable and rewarding experience of Shabbat Across Amerca and Canada will instill in non-practicing Jews a greater commitment to Judaism.
STATISTICS UNDERSCORE THE CHALLENGE
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.
In addition, 47% of American Jews intermarry and 54% of Jews under age 18 are being raised as non-Jews or with no religion. More than 2/3 of all North America Jews do not observe the Sabbath in any way, according to the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey conducted by the Council of Jewish Federations.