The Jewish Chronicle
SHABBAT UK READY TO DOUGH
GIVEN THE plentiful potential Shabbat distractions, organisers of this weekend’s Shabbat UK could probably have done without the lunchtime scheduling of the Spurs v Arsenal league clash on Saturday.
The North London derby has certainly not escaped the notice of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, an avid Spurs fan.
But, for him, nothing competes with the “spiritual connection” that Shabbat has to offer.
And he believes this will be proven by attendances at synagogues during the weekend, which promotes increased engagement with observance and aims to “unify the largest possible number of British Jews”.
The Chief Rabbi will be spreading the word by visiting seven Manchester congregations with his wife Valerie.
“Every Shabbat there are competing events and yet, when it comes around, I never think about them,” Rabbi Mirvis told the JC.
“I get more joy from the time spent with family and community. And, hopefully, I get to enjoy a good [football] result at the end of it.”
He said Shabbat UK had already evoked community spirit throughout the country through preparatory events such as challah bakes and cholent makes.
“It is all about Jewish identity and highlighting the centrality of Shabbat in Jewish life.
“Shabbat was introduced to us 3,000 years ago and it is wonderful
today that people naturally relate to it. I’m hearing more and more that the one aspect people really enjoy is
disconnecting with technology and connecting with each other.
“The fact God predicated we would need it is very meaningful.” The Chief Rabbi is particularly encouraged that Shabbat UK has been successful in attracting those who might typically not set foot in a synagogue beyond Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
“The result is more and more people getting involved in community action.
“People are engaged,” Rabbi Mirvis observed, “when they otherwise wouldn’t have been embracing their Judaism.
“They might have hundreds of friends on Facebook but they are not feeling connected to people or community.”
He found it was increasingly the case that people have come “to appreciate what Shabbat has to offer on its own merits”.
Rabbi Mirvis added that he was “no different to anyone else on Shabbat. It is time for me to feel spiritual and to feel the love of family and community.”
He had really enjoyed attending some of the events leading up to the special weekend.
“It doesn’t matter if I am going to a sushi make or a challah bake,” he concluded.
“The word I have for it is ‘fun’.”
People have Facebook friends but don’t feel connected’