May 21, 2024
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Bergenfield Prepares to Host the Shabbat Project

As women in North Jersey unify in the Great Challah Bake, another part of Shabbat preparations will be under way as well. The Challah Bake is just the beginning of a worldwide inspirational experience for Parshat Lech Lecha.

Dr. Debby Rapps and Julie Farkas coordinated this year’s Shabbat Project in Bergen County. The Shabbat Project started in South Africa, when Rabbi Warren Goldstein had a dream that all the Jews in the country would observe one Shabbat. When word spread about his initiative, his dream gained a global following and communities all over the world decided to join together in this goal.

Rapps is the director of the Jewish Youth Encounter Program, or JYEP, a program that pairs third through seventh graders with mentors from yeshiva high schools. As the school year begins, many of the students are first introduced to Shabbat and other experiences. As much as the goal is to inspire the students, “You can’t present Shabbat to young kids without getting the parents on board, too,” Rapps said. “Presenting the Shabbat early on in the school year makes it a family project.” Rapps explained further that for many of the students and mentors, the meal is as much about positive Shabbat experiences as it is “about having the high school mentors and the JYEP students get to know each other in the context of their families.”

Julie Farkas, who coordinates the Beth Abraham Outreach, as well as Jewish Journeys, a local organization whose mission is focused on strengthening Jewish families and homes, is excited to be a part of this year’s Shabbat Project as well. When inviting families with no formal Jewish educational background to an Orthodox Shabbat table, Farkas finds that the mutual growth benefits everyone participating. “Having guests ask questions about what we do gives us the chance to look things up and learn even after traditional education ended,” Farkas explained. “It strengthens our commitment as we appreciate the beauty in the answers.” Farkas further explained the role her children have come to play in the Shabbat interactions as well. From becoming a tutor to one of their guests, to looking forward to the holidays with guests who question what everyone else has come to take for granted, partnering with an initiative such as the Shabbat Project has truly enhanced what they value in Judaism.

Join the Shabbat Project at Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield.

Shabbat begins with candles at 4:22 p.m., and a welcome gathering. Kabbalat Shabbat will be a meaningful experience, blending halachic davening with a kiruv-friendly program. Following dinner at a host family, everyone will be invited together to a private house for a dessert reception.

Each year the feedback has been positive and the guest families and host families alike have enjoyed getting to know one another. To learn more or get involved, email Julie Farkas at [email protected].

By Jenny Gans

 

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