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Congregations join together for outdoor creative service

While this is the first time that Kehilath Israel Synagogue and Temple Israel have held a creative service outdoors, K.I. has had other events on the Millie and Saul Kass Patio, including this dinner in 2012.

Out in the open air. That’s how members of Kehilath Israel Synagogue and Temple Israel plan to welcome Shabbat three times this summer. The first will take place next Friday night, June 27.

K.I.’s Rabbi Jeffrey Shron said this is the perfect time of year to hold a creative Shabbat service and he hopes it will appeal to families with young children. 

“It will be a taste of Shabbat, spiritually and literally,” Rabbi Shron said.

Services begin in K.I.’s outdoor chapel at 6 p.m. Rabbi Shron said if the weather isn’t ideal, the interactive, creative service will be moved indoors. A casual, picnic-style meal will follow the service. While it is casual, tables and chairs will be set up on the Millie and Saul Kass Patio, so attendees don’t have to worry about eating on the ground. The meal will be catered by Linda Silver and each of the three picnics will feature a different menu. Activities for the children are being planned as well. (For more information, see below.)

“You don’t have to bring anything but yourself to the service and dinner,” Rabbi Shron said.

Rabbi Shron points out that the concept of Kabbalat Shabbat originated in the 15th century when “they literally went outdoors to welcome Shabbat.”

According to koach.org, the college outreach program of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Kabbalat Shabbat service is relatively new in comparison to the rest of our tefillot (prayers), which were established at the beginning of the second Temple (516 B.C.E.). Kabbalat Shabbat was established in the 1500s by a group of Kabbalists in Safed, Israel. They based this new service on the rabbis of the Talmud who would dress in their best white clothing and say to each other, “Lekha dodi likrat kallah,” meaning “Let us go greet the Shabbat Queen.” 

According to Chabad.org, when the mystics of Safed greeted the Sabbath in the field, they faced the setting sun with closed eyes and serenaded the Shabbat bride.

Because the Sabbath begins so late, at around 8:30 p.m., Rabbi Shron said that makes it a good time to be more creative and allow “families with young children to celebrate and enjoy a nice family dinner together.”

“Because it isn’t actually Shabbat yet, it allows us to have musical instruments as well,” the traditonal rabbi said.

Rabbi Shron said that sometimes the demands of work and children make it difficult for families to make it to a later Friday night service. 

“We hope the timing of this creative service makes it easier to attend and be more attractive to young families,” Rabbi Shron said.

For those who prefer a more traditional service, one will be held at K.I. at 7 p.m.

Temple Israel’s Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn is looking forward to celebrating Shabbat with members of K.I. Temple Israel rents space from K.I. and holds Shabbat services there every Friday night, school there every Sunday and other events.

“We have really enjoyed our relationship with K.I. and we try to do things together,” Rabbi Cukierkorn said.

One of the things the two congregations have collaborated on — K.I. is traditional and T.I. is Reform — is Sunday school. About 26 students attend the combined school on Sunday mornings. Many K.I. students also attend mid-week Hebrew classes.

“Our joint Sunday school has been a success, it has been a good learning initiative. It has been positive for both our families and theirs,” Rabbi Cukierkorn said.

“The thing that is interesting is when we first started the relationship, there was some concern as to how we would work out our liturgical or ideological differences. What we learned is that when you focus on what you share, rather than what separates, it’s amazing how much we have in common,” Rabbi Cukierkorn added.


Shabbat Alfresco details

Shabbat Alfresco, an interactive creative Friday night service followed by a catered picnic dinner under the supervision of the Vaad HaKashruth, will be held at 6 p.m. on the fourth Fridays of the months of June, July and August — June 27, July 25 and Aug. 22 — at Kehilath Israel Synagogue.

The cost for adults is $10; children 12 and under are free. Shabbat Alfresco is underwritten by the Caviar Family fund for Kehilath Israel. The event is open to all members of the community, not just members of K.I. or Temple Israel.

Reservations are due one week before the event. The reservation deadline for the June 27 service is tomorrow, Friday, June 20. The other reservation due dates are July 18 and Aug. 15.

To make reservations call the K.I. office at 913-642-1880.