By Jill Fox
What could entice busy residents to attend synagogue more often? One local synagogue has it all figured out.
Chabad of Parkland has created an interactive and lively Shabbat Service filled with songs and stories, complete with its own holy happy hour. The free event is open to everyone, not just temple members.
Rabbi Shuey Biston said the congregation had seen a dip in Friday night attendance in the synagogue.
“People are busy with dinner, movies, and their hectic schedules, so we added this funky element and developed this concept of Kiddush and cocktails,” he said.
Now, the evening, filled with songs and even dancing, has become increasingly more popular with as many as 200 people in attendance.
“Once a month, they know they’ll be in a 30-minute service filled with stories, messages, and timely ideas. It’s very inspiring,” said Biston.
A children’s program goes on simultaneously in another room, and after the service concludes, everyone gathers together in the social hall. Biston said it’s not a sit-down dinner; it’s a stand-up social event filled with food and drinks, which engages everyone. They even have chicken nuggets and fries for the younger crowd.
With previous themes of sushi and single malt, and whiskey and wings, the event has steadily increased in popularity over the past four months since its inception.
“Everyone is telling their friends, and they’re bringing their friends. It’s really caught on and become a big hit,” said Biston.
Next up: Ribs and Rye on February 7.
On the first Friday of each month, the interactive Shabbat service begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by Kiddush and cocktails at 6:15 p.m. There is no charge for the program; however, the synagogue kindly asks event-goers to RSVP so they can prepare accordingly.
The Chabad of Parkland is located at 7170 Loxahatchee Rd.
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.
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