July 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Where Will You Be This Shabbat?

If you’re lucky, then you’ll be spending Shabbat with 750 fellow Jews at the first-ever Project Inspire Shabbat Retreat to be held at the Sheraton Parsippany in New Jersey. The event has been completely sold out, said Project Inspire staffers. “Every room at the hotel is going to be occupied.”

Did you miss the boat? So did many others.

According to Yossie Friedman, managing director, “We at Project Inspire were confident that this groundbreaking Shabbat Retreat experience would be successful. But even we were amazed at how the event sold out since it was advertised just a few weeks ago.”

Project Inspire is a grassroots movement dedicated to awakening and empowering the Jewish community to learn more about its heritage. Through its many programs and activities, Jews of all backgrounds share the beauty of their customs and traditions together in a wholesome atmosphere and a supportive environment.

The Shabbat Project is a worldwide initiative uniting Jews of all backgrounds in hundreds of locations in an effort to keep one Shabbat together. It all began in 2013 when the chief rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, led his community in the first-ever event. The program captured the world’s imagination and since then, communities everywhere have celebrated the Shabbat Project together. Over one million Jews in 1152 cities have participated in the Shabbat Project, joining in communal challah bakes, sharing Shabbat dinners and participating in Havdalah concerts. The Shabbat Project breaks down barriers, restores Jewish identity and unites Jews around the world.

It’s no surprise, then, that Project Inspire has been instrumental in leading and guiding local communities in participating in the worldwide Shabbat Project over the years, bringing outstanding programming, innovative activities and inspirational speakers to thousands of Jews in the area.

This year the Gross family, gracious sponsors of the event, decided to bring the program to the next level. “While it’s always been an incredible and uplifting experience,” said Isaac Gross, “we wondered if we could bring the Shabbat Project to a new location, celebrating with hundreds of sincere and dedicated fellow Jews from all walks of life under one roof. We’ll be experiencing Shabbat at the Sheraton in Parsippany, where we’ll be entertained and enlightened and, of course, inspired. What a wonderful way to be participating in this massive worldwide movement. It promises to be an unforgettable experience.”

Once the word was out, calls came in to Project Inspire headquarters fast and furious. Jews of religious background were eager to invite others who are less familiar with a traditional Shabbat experience. Something about the concept of celebrating a Shabbat Retreat at an upscale hotel piqued the interest of hundreds of families. “It’s going to be a very diverse crowd,” Rabbi Yaakov Giniger, director of programming at Project Inspire, said. “But we will all be united in our efforts to spend a beautiful and heartwarming Shabbat together.”

The program will feature a star-studded lineup including presentations by Charlie Harary and Lori Palatnik, and entertainment by comedian Ashley Blaker and singer Yehuda Green. It will also include an amazing challah bake hosted by the incomparable Shimi Adar. “It’s hard to imagine,” said Gross, “that so much can be packed into one weekend.”

No wonder the phones are still ringing at Project Inspire, even though the Sheraton Parsippany is already completely booked. “One woman just called,” said Friedman, “begging us to include her family as well as the family of her unaffiliated guest. I wondered why she waited so long to register. She said it took her six weeks to convince her friend’s family, but they finally agreed. Somehow we were able to accommodate them.”

Rabbi Chaim Sampson, director of Project Inspire, is looking forward to the Shabbat Retreat and is hoping it will make an everlasting impression. “Our goal,” he said, “is to bring together a community of Jews from all walks of life who will learn and grow together and build relationships that will last for years.”

It promises to be a Shabbat Project like no other.

The Shabbat Retreat is dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Isaac and Edie Gross in memory of their beloved parents. For more information about this and other programs, contact Project Inspire at 646-291-6191 or visit jinspire.org

By M. Lowinger

 

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