The goal of Shabbat Israelit is to connect different sectors of Israeli society through the medium of Shabbat dinner: to get to know one another, to learn from one another, and to continue the unity in Israeli society that we experienced this past summer. At least for one evening, we achieved that goal.
- According to the data collected so far, more than 50,000 people participated!
- In addition to the very successful program involving secular and religious families to experience Shabbat dinner together, we also initiated massive community-wide Shabbat dinners in more than 30 locations throughout the country.
- We also organized 50 public Kabbalat Shabbat services, each of which had hundreds of attendees, as well as activities for children and families.
A major factor in the success of Shabbat Israelit has been our ability to build a coalition comprised of some of the most important and influential institutions in Israeli society today: secular yeshivot such as Bina and Hamidrasha at Oranim; social movements such as Tikkun, Gesher, Mitchabrim, Tzav Piyus, and Mirkam; and community center-based organizations such as Chevrat Hamatnasim and Yachad (Ohr Torah Stone).
Shabbat Israelit Across the Country:
- Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv – 500 people participated in Kabbalat Shabbat services followed by a champagne Kiddush. There were more than 500 participants at additional Shabbat Israelit dinners throughout Tel Aviv. After dinner, we conducted a panel discussion on the subject of “Shabbat Israelit”, featuring Beit Hillel member Rav Yoel Bin Nun, Dr. Hannah Friedman and Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer.
- Katzrin (Golan Heights) – Kabbalat Shabbat services and dinner for 120 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Argentina, and the United States.
- Tel Mond – Kabbalat Shabbat services with 300 people and a community Shabbat dinner for 52 religious and secular families.
- Ashkelon – Kabbalat Shabbat services, as well as activities for children prior to the onset of Shabbat. The children’s activities were so well-received that the chairman of the board of directors of the city’s matnasim (community centers) proposed that the municipality continue to do so every Erev Shabbat.
- Petah Tikva – Kabbalat Shabbat services and Shabbat dinner with 150 participants. There was additional communal participation at local synagogues and elsewhere in the city.
- Jerusalem, Haifa, Rehovot, Ramla, Bat Yam and elsewhere – In addition to community-wide Kabbalat Shabbat services, local youth organizations such as the religious B’nai Akiva and secular Tzofim conducted combined Shabbat dinners.
- Kiryat Motzkin – Local youth went a step further, inviting recent high school graduates to spend the evening discussing the issues about Shabbat raised by the Shabbat Israelit initiative.
Above all are the personal stories of families who were so excited to meet and share experiences with other families who were quite different from them. These kinds of stories were very common, and powerful enough to bring one to tears of happiness and excitement.
Without a doubt, Shabbat Israelit was able to begin the process of change in the public discourse in Israeli society regarding Shabbat. Much work remains to be done, but we will be able to draw strength from this past Shabbat to continue the next social revolution: the Shabbat Israelit Revolution.
We look forward to providing you with ongoing updates on Shabbat Israelit throughout the year.
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