Sharing Shabbat in Essex County
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Sharing Shabbat in Essex County

FC volunteers Giordan Pizano, left, Rob Rubin, and Matthew Cohen (Photos courtesy Friendship Circle)
FC volunteers Giordan Pizano, left, Rob Rubin, and Matthew Cohen (Photos courtesy Friendship Circle)

At a time of uncertainty around the world and as a war rages overseas, 2,200 Jews in Essex County joined in “Celebrate Shabbat@Home” on Friday evening, April 1. Chabad of Livingston and the Friendship Circle coordinated the new initiative with the hope for peace, blessing, and light.

Participants received a free Shabbat box with everything they need to celebrate Shabbat, including candles, grape juice, wine, and a kiddush cup, two loaves of challah, cards with step-by-step directions, and more.

“The Celebrate Shabbat @Home project is an opportunity to gather in your home with your family and, at the same time, join together with the entire community,” Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum said. “Shabbat candle-lighting and the recitation of kiddush are special times to pray for peace and harmony for the entire world.”

Chabad developed Celebrate Shabbat @Home with Eric Zoller of Livingston, whose parents have always insisted that everyone in the family celebrate Shabbat together—with candle-lighting, kiddush, and challah. It is a tradition that he and his family continue each week.

“I wanted to show my friends and the entire Jewish community how easy it is to celebrate your Judaism,” he said. “We live in a world of sound bites. People are distracted in their time and attention, and they cut out things that they think are most difficult to keep up with. But Judaism isn’t difficult. It’s unique to your being, and there are lots of different ways to express your Judaism and it doesn’t always need to be in a synagogue, it can be in your home.”

The Livingston shluchim — Rabbi Zalman and Toba Grossbaum, Rabbi Yisroel and Chavi Rosenblum, and Rabbi Levi and Esti Grossbaum — had hoped to distribute 2,000 Shabbat kits, but because of the higher-than-anticipated demand hundreds of additional kits were assembled and distributed.

Shabbat @Home was inspired by the teachings of the Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, who taught that even a little bit of light can dispel much darkness. The timing of Celebrate Shabbat is tied to the 120th anniversary of his birthday, the 11th of Nissan, which is on April 12.

Chabad emissaries in neighboring New Jersey communities, as well as area synagogues, partnered in this program and encouraged congregants to celebrate Shabbat on April 1.

“Shabbat @Home” is the first of the “Judaism @Home” series that will focus on promoting the rebbe’s 10-Point mitzvah campaign throughout the rebbe’s 120th year and beyond. More information is at CelebrateShabbat.com.

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