This past month, the Jewish world took a well-deserved collective deep breath as it celebrated Shabbat together as part of the 2016 Shabbat Project. An estimated one million people took part in celebrations in over 950 communities on and around the Shabbat of November 11 and 12 – not just in unique Shabbat programs, but in city-wide pre-Shabbat “Challah Bakes” and post-Shabbat “Havdalah Concerts.” The Louisville community joined this global movement with many special programs and services at our local synagogues.
The Louisville Shabbat Project was spearheaded by a committee of 14 women from across the religious spectrum in our community. Together, they coordinated the first ever Great Big Challah Bake on Wednesday, November 9, at the J where over 100 participants came together.
The group truly personified the idea of the weekend because there were so many people from different walks of Jewish life mixed together at the tables. They came from different generations and backgrounds.
Led by Bari Mitzmann, the director of Women’s Learning for the Las Vegas Jewish Experience, participants learned the special qualities for each ingredient that goes into challah. They followed Duby Litvin as she shared how to separate “challah” and say the bracha (blessing) over it before she shared how to braid four-strand and six-strand loaves and make challah rolls.
For many in attendance, this was their first time ever making challah and they were given the chance to choose to make whole-wheat, traditional white or gluten free loaves.
One participant shared, “Being with my friends, and many other Jewish women, and all of us working side by side, making the same thing, this one special thing that connects us together … challah.”
Many others echoed another participant when they said, “I thought this was a great event and can’t wait for next year!”
On Saturday afternoon, November 12, the J’s JOFEE Fellow Michael Fraade led a small group on a wonderful and informative nature hike through Cherokee Park. The two-hour journey began and ended at Big Rock.
One participant said that she was inspired by the Shabbat Project to go “technology free” and that it sparked communication about what Shabbat means to her and her spouse.
The Louisville Shabbat Project also invited the community to join together in celebration of Havdalah (the ceremony that ends Shabbat and begins the regular week) at Big Rock. Fifty members of our community came out in the cold to sing, make s’mores, enjoy hot cocoa and meditate on bringing more unifying light to our community.
The evening began with everyone gathering in a circle for the traditional blessings demarking the end of Shabbat accompanied by Benji Berlow on the guitar. Following the ceremony, Rabbi Avrohom Litvin led a small group in meditation reflecting on the spirit of the weekend and the Torah portion of the week, Lech Lecha.
Then a small group began to sing camp songs with the guitar and drum as everyone gathered around for a Kumzitz (Yiddish for come sit) while a group of yeshiva students visiting from St. Louis gathered a group to dance as they sang into the night.
The committee thanks The Jewish Federation, The J, and the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. Our first year with the Louisville Shabbat Project would not have been possible without your support. We invite the community to stay tuned as we make plans for future community wide Shabbat projects.
Members of the Louisville Shabbat Project Committee are Rachel Blaustein, Sandra Chack, Amy Faust, Jodi Halpern, Duby Litvin, Fraidy Litvin, Goldie Litvin, Mishy Mandel, Lenae Price, Cori Roth, Hindy Snaid, Lisa Sobel-Berlow, Chaya Susman and Heidi Wolk.