Office of the Chief Rabbi

Yeshurun: Shabbat Under the Stars

Event

Shabbat became an outdoor adventure when members of the Yeshurun Hebrew Congregation joined family and friends to pitch tents at the Bowley Scout Camp in Blackburn. The programme for ‘Shabbat Under the Stars’ included a musical Kabbalat Shabbat in a field (!), a late night Tish with songs plus a Q & A with Rabbi Atlas, discussions about Jewish dilemmas and a spectacular Havdalah barbecue and bonfire, all of which engaged everyone, regardless of their age, gender or level of religious observance, and created a festive atmosphere. The weather wasn’t brilliant, but this didn’t matter at all.

Objectives

To get community members together in a different environment to spend time outside of Shul with the Rabbi and his family
To attract people who are not necessarily regular Shul goers
To provide education outside of the Shul environment, especially for children and youth, to show that Shabbat can be fun

Evaluation from Rebbetzen Atlas

‘There were many different community members from different social groups and ages, all happy to get to know those who they were less familiar with. There was a wonderful Shabbat atmosphere – away from modern life. There was a real communal feel to the whole weekend, especially as we got non-members involved, with everyone helping and taking part. We would highly recommend this to other communities. You get to know your community in a different way, outside of shul. Members also get to know their Rabbi and family as we are more approachable. There is more quality time for conversations and discussions.’

Participant Feedback:

  • Very interesting discussions with just the right balance of religious and secular content
  • The ruach and sense of togetherness over the Shabbaton were very special. I particularly enjoyed the davening outside on Friday night and the discussion of dilemmas on Shabbat morning after the service
  • What a fantastic weekend enjoying a wonderful Shabbat under the Stars! Organised brilliantly by Rabbi Chanan and his lovely wife Nechama. We were all made to feel so welcome from the moment we pitched our tents. I’m already looking forward to next year
  • A lovely supportive non-judgemental atmosphere, plus some great discussion sessions
  • A chance to engage with people and ages I may not normally mix with. What I gained: some thought-provoking discussions on faith vs ritual, respect for the beauty of Shabbat, singing and bensching
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