Members of the Chicago area Jewish suburbs will gather On Friday, March 7, at BAY Shul, in Buffalo Grove, for an unparalleled display of Jewish revitalization and Jewish unity.
Conceived and organized by NJOP in 1997, Shabbat Across America and Canada represents a united effort by the entire Jewish community to renew interest in the fourth of the Ten Commandments -- observing a weekly day of rest (Shabbat in Hebrew).
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BAY Shul will be one of approximately 700 synagogues across the continent that will simultaneously open its doors to practicing and nonpracticing Jews alike, so they may join together to experience and rejoice in a traditional Shabbat service and festive meal.
Over 944,000 people have participated in Shabbat Across America and Canada in the past. Attendees will experience an interactive Friday night Explanatory Service and a traditional Shabbat dinner with all the rituals explained. The event will take place from 5:30-9 p.m.
"We just cannot accept the common perception that North American Jewry is an endangered species," said Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, founder and director of NJOP. "While it is true that the vast majority of Jews in this country have never participated in a traditional Sabbath experience and do not feel a connection to the Judaism that their grandparents practiced only half a century ago -- this should not be. Shabbat Across America and Canada is an exciting and modern way of reintroducing friends and family members to a practice that has been with, and unified, our people for over 3,300 years, and which we trust will be with us for at least 3,300 more."
Prompted by the growing rate of Jewish assimilation in North America, NJOP hopes that a memorable and rewarding experience at Shabbat Across America and Canada will infuse thousands of nonpracticing Jews with a sense of a greater commitment to Judaism.
Of the 5.2 million North American Jews, 2.4 million no longer identify themselves as Jews, 1 million are unaffiliated with any Jewish organizations, and 1.2 million are marginally affiliated, meaning they rarely attend synagogue and have little to do with Jewish life. In addition, 47 percent of American Jews intermarry and 54 percent of Jews below age 18 are being raised as non-Jews or with no religion. Perhaps the most poignant fact is that more than two-thirds of all North America Jews do not observe the Sabbath in any way, according to the 2001 National Jewish Population Survey, Council of Jewish Federations.
Designed to teach a generation of unaffiliated Jews about the beauty and significance of the Jewish Sabbath, Shabbat Across America and Canada is the first nationally orchestrated program to appeal to members of all major Jewish denominations. It is also the first and only program aimed at uniting Jews across the United States and Canada through one single event. Shabbat Across America and Canada will take place in every city where there is a Jewish presence -- from major Jewish geographical centers, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto, to cities with smaller Jewish populations such as Alexandria, La.; Nashua, N.H.; and Portland, Oregon.
NJOP was established in 1987 by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, and has become one of the largest and most successful Jewish outreach organizations. NJOP offers free programs at more than 4,860 locations across North America and in 39 countries worldwide. Through programs such as Shabbat Across America/Canada and Read Hebrew America/Canada, NJOP has successfully reached more than 1,428,600 North American Jews, and engaged them in Jewish life.
BAY Shul, located at 314 McHenry Road, in Buffalo Grove Town Center, has been an innovator in Jewish programming and education. This is their first year participating in the Shabbat Across America and Canada program.
SAJE (Suburban Alliance for Jewish Education) is a multifaceted Jewish outreach organization servicing the Northern and Western suburbs providing Jewish classes, programs and events. SAJE also includes an early childhood and Jewish day school program, a Hebrew school program and a women's division that provides special programs and events for Jewish women.
To register for Shabbat Across America or for more information please call (847) 947-4229 or (224) 534-9613 or visit www.SAJEwisheducation.org.