The Shabbat Project brought hundreds out to bake challah, celebrate Shabbat and dance over three nights, Oct. 23-25. (photo by Alan Katowitz)
Oct. 23 saw more than 400 people make Vancouver history by participating in its first community-wide challah bake. The event served as the springboard for the Shabbat Project (also known as the Shabbos Project), an initiative spearheaded last year by South Africa’s chief rabbi, Dr. Warren Goldstein, in an attempt to unite his community through the practice of keeping one Shabbat together.
It’s a disarmingly simple concept. By experiencing the magic of Shabbat just once, we can rejuvenate family and community life, restore Jewish pride and identity, and build Jewish unity across the world. The international event this year exceeded all expectations, uniting Jews in more than 461 cities in 65 countries.
Taking place over the Shabbat weekend of Oct. 24-25, the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver served as the venue for the local celebrations. The inaugural challah bake yielded several hundred beautifully braided challot. And hundreds celebrated Shabbat, many of them for the fist time. People set up tents and invited others to join them for meals and/or the whole Shabbat. Different organizations facilitated community meals and programs throughout.
“Once I had lit the candles, I felt an amazing wave of peace,” said participant Barbara Weinberg. “Although at first I did miss that cellphone, we started playing board games and actually it was rather nice to be off the grid. In fact, after Havdalah, I felt reluctant to turn everything on! My daughter particularly enjoyed it, as she said that she liked that we spent so much time doing things together.”
The closing event – a Havdalah concert – brought a capacity crowd to the JCCGV auditorium for a night of music, dance and Jewish celebration. Moshe Hecht and his band, from New York, kept the energy and excitement going way past the official end time. A perfect end to an amazing Shabbat.