assistant - Thu, Sep 24, 2009, 11:39 A
Rekindle Shabbat: The Pause That Renews
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Janet Kaplan Bucciarelli, Program Coordinator.
PHONE: (413) 439-1984

Rekindle Shabbat: The Pause That Renews

PIONEER VALLEY – Haven’t you ever just wished that life came with a “Pause” button?

According to Jewish tradition, it does. And now, groups of families throughout the Pioneer Valley are reconnecting with that tradition. No hefty tomes of obscure theology, no hours in a house of worship, no expectations: just joining other families over that particularly Jewish sacrament: a hearty meal and a celebration of the Sabbath “pause”.

Over the past six years, and in over 400 households throughout Western Massachusetts, the Rekindle Shabbat program has connected Jewish and interfaith families with the celebration of the Jewish Sabbath. Jews traditionally cease from their weekday work for the Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew), and celebrate with a special meal Friday night.

“We really see the program as a way to take a breath, stop, get together with friends and connect. Shabbat is a gift we can give to our families and ourselves every week,” said Janet Kaplan Bucciarelli, the program’s coordinator.

Despite the challenges of assimilation and the general drift away from traditional practice, many Jewish and interfaith families have expressed a renewed interest in that lost knowledge and hands-on experience.

“When I joined the Rekindle Shabbat program three years ago, I thought it would be a program for the children. When I look back, I have learned as much as my kids,” said an Amherst mother of two.

“Before Rekindle Shabbat, I had no idea how to do Shabbat. Now, it is a part of our lives,” she said.

Each participating family in Rekindle Shabbat is matched with a host or guest family. Together they share the home-based Friday night Shabbat celebration on three pre-determined dates.

This year’s dates are Dec 11, Jan. 29, and April 30. The first two dates fall on the holidays of Hannukah (Festival of Lights) and Tu B’Shevat (Festival of the Trees, a newer holiday honoring trees and our connection to the environment), so the catered dinners provided by the program will include information about how to celebrate these holidays, and hosts will guide some informal learning as well.

Rekindle Shabbat is open to Jewish and interfaith families with children, high school age and younger. Households returning for a 3rd or more year are requested to join with a household new to the program. Couples and singles are also welcome as space allows. The three catered meals and supplementary materials, valued at over $200 per family, are free to first year participants, and $36 for returning households. First year participants also receive a tool kit of items needed to practice the simple Shabbat rituals of lighting the candles, and blessing the wine and bread.

Participants can choose to either be a guest or to host another family in their own home. Interested households need to sign up by October 15th at the program’s website, Rekindle Shabbat is a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts with support from the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and William and Lynn Foggle.

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Sep 18, 2021