HANDS UP IF YOU ENJOYED SHABBAT UK
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’