THE Shabbat Project will be back next month with new and improved offerings designed to engage the Melbourne Jewish community in a global celebration of Shabbat.
Launched in South Africa in 2013, the initiative aims to unite Jews from all walks of life in experiencing one Shabbat together. More than a million people worldwide are set to participate in events on Friday, November 11 and Saturday, November 12, with this being the third year Australia has taken part.
“We’ve changed a lot of the focus. We’re doing quite a few new things,” director Rabbi Moshe Kahn told The AJN.
He explained that a key fixture of the Shabbat Project, the Challah Bake, has been divided into three events: a kids’ challah bake, a women’s challah bake, and for the first time, a teen challah bake.
The new teenage demographic will see the Jewish schools come together to host a bumper event, expected to attract around 750 people.
Moreover, there will be significant emphasis on education this year, with 10 shuls running educational classes in the lead-up to the weekend. The classes will cover a diverse range of topics, from the meaning of Shabbat to how to make cholent.
On the Shabbat itself, there will be approximately 80 events happening around the community; whether a meal or an activity.
“Pretty much every single shul is going to be hosting an event,” Rabbi Kahn enthused.
In addition, there will be a communal havdalah concert, held at Caulfield Hebrew Congregation.
Rabbi Kahn encouraged everyone, regardless of their religious observance or affiliation, to “pull up a chair” by sharing a meal, hearing an inspirational speaker or simply uniting for one very special Shabbat.
He said people should choose to mark the Shabbat in any way which is most comfortable for them.
“Any time anyone embraces their heritage, culture, and traditions, they feel empowered. They feel a true sense of purpose … that sense of belonging,” he said.
“We’ve been given a gift of Shabbat and we should tap into it.”
Rabbi Kahn added that the goal, eventually, is for the Shabbat Project to be driven by the participants, rather than an organisational body.
“We want it to become more of a grassroots initiative … the objective in the long term is the people take it over,” he said.
“The dream goal is we want as many people to keep the Shabbat as possible.”
Visit www.theshabbosproject.org.au for more information.