Shabbat Across America to unite faiths

Bringing people of different faiths together is one of the reasons for the Shabbat Across America program.


“In the United States and Canada once a year, we open our gates to Jews and non-Jews. We open the door,” said Rabbi Jeshayahu “Shai” Beloosekey of the Congregation Children of Israel, which is participating in the event on March 3.

Shabbat means Sabbath, and members of the Jewish temple observe the Sabbath with its weekly service on Friday evenings. Augustans are invited to join the traditional service, which will have its own twist.

“This year, we’re bringing in a Christian choir,” he said.

Members of Keys Grove Baptist Church will be joining in the service, which begins at 6 p.m. with a dinner at 7:15 p.m. The event is free; however, those interested in participating are asked to make reservations so the temple can plan enough food.

Shabbat Across America is a program through the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP).

“NJOP’s annual Shabbat program will give you a ‘taste’ of Shabbat. Explanatory services, traditional rituals, delicious meals and lively discussions are all important components of the Shabbat experience, as well as the opportunity to spend the evening with like-minded people, friends and family,” according to the NJOP website.

While the Congregation Children of Israel has participated in the past with other Jewish people from other congregations, this will be the first time it has invited non-Jewish people in.

People of different faiths may not share all of the same beliefs; however, there is common ground, said Beloosekey.

“How we respect each other, love each other, speak about love and compassion, how we try to do for others - we may believe another way, but at the end of the day, we’re all human beings,” he said.

And he’s looking forward to it being a joyous celebration with the diverse crowd and music. Beloosekey said he loves music and believes it can cross many divides.

“Words have limits and borders, but music is without borders,” he said.

Shabbat Across America is only one outreach the local Jewish community is doing. On April 10, there will be a Seder and it will also be open to the community. Beloosekey said he has invited another Baptist church to participate in that event.

To learn more about Shabbat Across America, call (706) 736-3140.