Office of the Chief Rabbi

St John’s Wood: Community Shabbat with IDF soldiers

Event

St John’s Wood Shul wanted to capture that Shabbat UK feeling, so resolved to host a similar family-oriented affair with some special guests. A group of 36 Israeli soldiers participating in the ‘Peace of Mind’ programme joined the community for a ruach-filled Shacharit service led by the congregation’s youth, followed by a kiddush and well-attended lunch. Plenty of zemiros added to the jovial atmosphere.

Objectives

To continue endowing the local Shabbat experience with the feel-good factor of Shabbat UK; to inject more ruach and encourage youth participation in the Shabbat morning service, to provide a warm, friendly atmosphere over shabbat with good food, zemirot and a great atmosphere that encourages more people to attend.

Evaluation from Charles Lossos (Chair):

“This event successfully brought together local families and members of the community for a communal Shabbat meal complete with ruach-filled zemiros and bensching. This fantastic atmosphere followed on from a very successful youth takeover service in the main shul which was admired by all. The visiting group of Israeli soldiers addressed our young members, enlightening them with stories of their experiences and providing encouragement for their future.”

Participant Feedback:

  • I came away with a deeper understanding of the trauma that can affect soldiers in the IDF, and how much they value the support of diaspora Jews.
  • As well as reinforcing my view that we have outstanding Youth Leaders, this event was a brilliant opportunity to hear Israeli soldiers speak.
  • As ever, it was great to spend time with others in the community and feel a part of it all.
  • Our family certainly learned a lot about the soldiers’ experiences and left feeling that we would definitely like to attend more speaker events.