ShabbatUK 2017 at Pinner
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Wednesday 1st November 2017

"A magical and spiritual weekend that actually had us engaged for a week." That was the sentiment felt by one of many attendees to Pinner Synagogue's third annual ShabbatUK celebration. 

The success of this truly special event, now a highlight feature of the Cecil Park community's calendar, was felt by men and women of all ages and stages, from all walks of life, across all levels of involvement and observance, who, for just one day, decided to disconnect from the daily grind and experience a meaningful and unique Shabbat.

Momentum built at Pinner’s Jewish community when both keen cooks and amateurs came together on 22 October for a cookery demonstration with renowned professional chef and member of the Cecil Park kehilah, Anne Shooter.

This was followed by two sell-out Challah Makes where young and old poured in to the synagogue building to learn the art of making, plaiting and baking our traditional loaf, where £60 was also raised and donated to Jewish Women's Aid.

For members of the community unable to join the main celebrations, a care package was created and distributed, containing chicken soup, a cooked chicken and a variety of accompaniments. This enabled the elderly to be a part of Pinner’s ShabbatUK weekend.

Kabbalat Shabbat festivities featured guest Chazan Adrian Alexander and the wonderful Choir Rannenu alongside a sushi kiddush and young professionals dinner, where attendees enjoyed a traditional meal and a discussion hosted by renowned scholar Clive Lawton, on what it means to be a Millennial and the relevance and importance of Shabbat within that framework. There were also hosted meals in the homes of members of the community.

Then, over the course of the Shabbat day, hundreds of people - many of whom are not regular shul-goers – found a renewed spirituality as they took part in the special activities. The morning service was again accompanied by Choir Rannenu, which was followed by a communal lunch. There, the hall was packed to capacity as people ate, drank, sang and listened to the inspiring headline speaker Clive Lawton, who captivated the audience with his words.

The afternoon was filled with whisky tasting, youth activities, discussion groups and a seudah before the celebrations concluded with a magical Havdalah ceremony. Dancing, eating and socialising followed providing the perfect end to a thrilling Shabbat.

“This event gave us the opportunity to remember how beautiful and inspiring Shabbat can be and how it is even more important than ever to take a step back from the bustle of life to take stock,” admitted Lewis Nelken, who helped to organise the young professional dinner.

“It was so wonderful to see old and new faces and I’ve no doubt we won’t be waiting until next year’s event to repeat this special evening.”

This view was echoed by Merrill Dresner.

"All credit to the small army of organisers for a magical and spiritual weekend that actually had us engaged for a week, with varied and interesting activities to help ensure that Shabbat UK really was unlike any other Shabbat."

And co-ordinator Debra Levin is full of praise for the community's efforts.

"This really was a team effort and I cannot thank everyone for their dedication and hard work enough.

"Pinner should be very proud for producing an inspiring Shabbat that encapsulated and reflected so perfectly the warm, diverse, forward-thinking community that we are."