By Daniel Mackintosh
Shabbat remains the centrepiece of Jewish life. It is the home that we return to every week, helping us to build healthy habits, remind us of what is really important, and that while the struggles we face can feel awful, in the fullness of time, they too shall pass.
What lifts Shabbat out of being a withdrawal from the world, and instead, just a withdrawal from creation in the world, is the ability to share it with others.
And that is what we did on Shabbat Beyachad on 4 March 2022.
21 Builders and guests joined 3 Shabbat tables across London. We ate, we sang together, we sat and we spoke. We put down the work screens and enjoyed the pleasure of human company, the wisdom of conversation, the deliciousness of good food.
Lea Bernier led her first service with Ed Teeger, and Kati Hoffmann hosted her first Shabbat dinner (with 10 people!), where she used her Shabbat candles for the first time. They both demonstrated what it means to live the value of hineini – stepping up to lead in an area new to both of them.
We also had challot delivered to hosts and special kiddush prayer booklets – designed by Charlotte Fischer, with quotations, questions and reflections, shared to stimulate conversation.
At Ed’s house, by 01:00, he was tired, and so decided to go to bed, leaving his guests there. When he awoke to lead shacharit the next day, he found that his Shabbat guest fairies had cleaned up his whole house!
Overall, it was a wonderful time to be together again. As one person said in the evaluation: they learnt that ‘in-person informal time together is joyful, lifegiving and fundamental to strengthening our community!’
If you want to join in – either as a host of a guest or join the Shabbat Beyachad Team – for the next Shabbat Beyachad, please add these dates to your diary: Friday 27 May and Friday 14 October (yes, during Sukkot).
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.