The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

Lon­don school­child­ren cel­e­brat­ing Shab­bat UK last week­end in one of the many events that took place across the coun­try to mark the spe­cial day

OR­GAN­IS­ERS OF the sec­ond an­nual Shab­bat UK week­end claim that more than 100,000 peo­ple at­tended syn­a­gogue ser­vices or took part in one of the 900 events held in more than 50 com­mu­ni­ties.

The ini­tia­tive of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Shab­bat UK en­cour­ages com­mu­nity mem­bers to con­nect with their con­gre­ga­tions and Shab­bat in new ways. The pro­gramme launched last Thurs­day with 5,000 peo­ple join­ing the Great Chal­lah Make in Brent Cross. Two thou­sand pupils from schools across Lon­don were at a Kab­balat Shab­bat event at the same venue and singer Yishai Lapi­dot flew in from Is­rael to en­ter­tain 1,000 guests at a hav­dalah party at Finch­ley Syn­a­gogue. Com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try also came to­gether to stage chal­lah makes and ex­plana­tory prayer ser­vices.

Rabbi Mirvis, who spent Shab­bat in Manch­ester, said the re­sponse had ren­dered him al­most speech­less. “I can’t think of words in the English lan­guage to de­scribe it. ‘Ex­tra­or­di­nary’ would be an un­der­state­ment.

“There are many, many peo­ple I met who have got in­volved with Shab­bat as a re­sult of Shab­bat UK. They were sur­round­ing me at events.

“And it’s not just that their con­nec­tion with Shab­bat has been en­hanced, but also a nar­ra­tive of com­mu­ni­ties be­ing em­pow­ered to put on the kind of spec­tac­u­lar events they thought they would never be ca­pa­ble of.

“We’ve seen a knock-on ef­fect on pro­gram­ming out­put.”

Shab­bat UK, for which the JC is me­dia part­ner, also in­volved some non-Ortho­dox con­gre­ga­tions, in­clud­ing a num­ber of Re­form shuls. In Har­row, more than 200 peo­ple from the Mo­saic com­mu­nity, com­pris­ing Lib­eral, Re­form and Ma­sorti con­gre­ga­tions, were in­volved in ac­tiv­i­ties.

Rabbi Mirvis wel­comed the wider par­tic­i­pa­tion, say­ing: “Shab­bat is for ev­ery Jew. The more Jewish peo­ple who are en­gaged with Shab­bat UK and Ju­daism, the bet­ter.”

‘The more peo­ple who are en­gaged with Ju­daism, the bet­ter’

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