New York—This Friday night, individuals, neighbors, friends and communities nationwide will unite in the celebration of Shabbat. In its 19th year, Shabbat Across America and Canada (SAA/C), sponsored by not-for-profit NJOP* (www.njop.org), continues to make history by bringing thought-provoking Shabbat experiences to neighborhoods throughout North America. This year, NJOP launched “CommUNITY Shabbat Across America and Canada,” encouraging synagogues in close proximity yet with diverse affiliations to hold communal Shabbat celebrations. On March 13, more than 45,000 individuals are expected to join local SAA/C celebrations at more than 550 locations.
“Shabbat Across America and Canada is such a successful program each year because it allows thousands of people, who may not ordinarily take the time or initiative to engage spiritually, to do so in a real and unintimidating way,” said Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, Founder and Director of NJOP. “It almost goes without saying at this point that going ‘old-school’ for one night and disconnecting from technology while enjoying great food and conversation can be as beneficial as it can be meaningful. But more than that, this year in particular, we are thrilled to see the beautiful diversity of American Jewry united in enjoyment of this gift of Shabbat. It belongs to us all and becomes infinitely more significant when shared.”
Conceived of in 1997 by Rabbi Buchwald, SAA/C is designed for the North American Jewish community and, because of the program’s popularity and appeal, has welcomed locations worldwide. Encouraging host locations to customize the experience for their communities, NJOP makes it easy for congregants by providing the ShabbatAcross America and Canada Handbook, educational templates, blessings and prayers.
In 2014, NJOP introduced Shabbat Across America and Canada at Home, enabling those who cannot attend a synagogue-hosted event, or would prefer to celebrate at home, to join the experience in a more intimate setting. In 2015, thanks in part to the addition of CommUNITY Shabbat Across America and Canada, Shabbat events will be held across a rich tapestry of Jewish settings. For those who want to host a Shabbat Across America and Canada at Home celebration, it is as simple as hosting a Friday night Shabbat dinner with family, friends, and neighbors. NJOP provides the Shabbat Across America and Canada at HomeGuide (http://bit.ly/1fIDFuX) as a free download, including help with traditional Shabbat rituals, recipes from America’s top chefs (such as Wolfgang Puck), and more.
Synagogues across the continent have jumped on board with this year’s new addition to the program, CommUNITY Shabbat Across America and Canada. Staten Island, NY will bring together 18 synagogues for the largest celebration under the coordination of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island (COJO). In Stamford, CT, all area synagogues and the Federation will be celebrating beneath one roof in a public school, while in West Hartford there will be four locations participating. Portland, Oregon will hold a celebration with six local synagogues run by the Federation. And in Canada, the Jewish community of Winnipeg, MB will come together as six locations to celebrate Shabbat in solidarity.
Even as NJOP continues to introduce new components, the traditional Shabbat Across America and Canada program continues to be popular. In New York City, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun will hold one of the larger SAA/C events. “We are anticipating more than 700 people and looking forward to one of the best nights of the year,” said Rabbi Daniel Kraus of Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue on New York City’s Upper East Side. “Our congregants are excited for the program, and we are also thrilled this year to have a special program for kids.”
Participants canfind registered locations with NJOP’s online Find A Class Or Program tool and selecting “Shabbat Across America and Canada” from the dropdown menu (http://njop.org/partners/resources/find-a-class-or-program/).
Find registered locations: