July 17, 2024
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YIOT Community Institutes ‘Community Shabbos’ Lunch

In the last two weeks we have read in the weekly Torah portion about hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests into one’s home. The Young Israel of Teaneck (YIOT) has really taken this mitzvah to heart. This past Shabbat, the YIOT held its first-ever “Community Shabbos” lunch, with families hosting other families in their homes. With a membership of just over 200 families, the YIOT reported that the shul had nearly 80 percent of the members participating in 41 simultaneous meals.

Shul members were divided into four categories by tenure in the community: those who recently moved into the community, those who have been living in the community a few years, those who have been in the community more than a few years and those who have been in the community a very long time. One family from each category was placed into a group assigned to a host home for a communal Shabbat lunch.

In his Shabbat drasha, Rabbi Binyamin Krohn encouraged members to greet people in shul, even if they don’t know them. He shared how he takes pride in the YIOT’s reputation for being a warm and welcoming shul and how it’s up to each person to make people feel welcome—whether it’s a guest or a member they see week after week to whom they have never been introduced.

Reflecting on the success of the Community Shabbos lunch, Rabbi Krohn told The Jewish Link, “I am so incredibly proud of this initiative, as it reflects the values that drive our community. As our shul has grown in size it has become challenging for everyone to get to know each other. Thankfully, this Shabbos was an opportunity to redouble our efforts in this area. And not only did it create a beautiful, warm atmosphere this Shabbos, but we are confident the impact will continue into the future.”

Just after noon on Shabbat, families could be seen walking the streets of the Country Club area headed to their host homes, and between three and four in the afternoon, families were seen returning from their lunches.

Rena and Joseph Schenker hosted 15 people in their home. They told The Jewish Link, “We hosted because it was a great opportunity to meet new families and engage with neighbors that we hadn’t gotten to know previously.”

According to David Schwartz, YIOT president, “I thought the Community Shabbos lunch was a great way to highlight, and at the same time nurture, what makes the Country Club community special and possibly unique in the Teaneck area: a one-shul community, where substantially everyone who lives in the neighborhood—a large, diverse group of families—all go to the same shul.”

Esther Katz shared, “My husband, Elie Y. Katz, grew up in Teaneck. We could have lived in any community in Teaneck but we chose to live on the Young Israel side because we saw how warm and inviting the community was, with a small-town feel and a nice mix of people. In the last few years a lot of people have moved into the neighborhood. This Community Shabbos lunch was a great opportunity for people to meet one another. One of the really nice things about this Shabbos was that everyone had somewhere to go for lunch. Nobody was alone. It’s a simple idea and it’s brilliant.”

 By Sara Kosowsky Gross

 

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