The area’s youngest rabbis collaborate on innovative Shabbat experience geared toward young adults.
By Stacy Gittleman, Contributing Writer
In ongoing efforts to bring sparks of connection to a post-affiliation generation, Detroit’s youngest rabbis will hold “Shabbat Together,” an innovative Shabbat experience with guitars, singing and a farm-to-table dinner, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Jam Handy, 2900 E. Grand Blvd. in Detroit.
More a collaboration of love and friendship than work, the evening will best reflect the shared passions and aspirations of rabbis such as Yoni Dahlen of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Megan Brudney of Temple Beth El, The Well’s Daniel Horwitz, Temple Israel’s Jen Lader and Hazon’s Nate DeGroot. All are eager to push the envelope on innovative efforts to continue to energize the next generations of Detroit Jews.
Last spring, with help from a William Davidson Foundation grant, Horwitz and Dahlen traveled to Los Angeles for a Jewish Emergent Network conference to see what they could bring home to Detroit. Comprised of seven innovative Jewish communities in coastal cities, this movement seeks to reinvent and re-engage Jewish educational and ritual practice to newer generations of post-affiliated Jews.
An example is a “wordless Shabbat” The Well held in January where 40 young adults ushered in a Friday night with harmonious niggunim to allow for private meditations rather than reciting psalms from a traditional siddur.
Horwitz said the Feb. 8 service, geared to those 40 and younger, is not rooted in any one siddur but will have the “arc” of a traditional Kabbalat Shabbat service with participants sitting in concentric circles. “The evening will be completely collaborative,” Horwitz said. “We are excited to bring some of the best practices on the coasts to Detroit and are crafting a non-denominational spiritual experience. And, if it works, we will surely do it again.”
Dahlen said he hopes participants will come away feeling nourished, peaceful and will have found an experience with the depth and meaning they have been seeking. He added the friendship, mutual respect and love the rabbis have for Judaism and each other made the planning a joy and not a chore.
“The truth is that we aren’t working together so much as we are dreaming and brainstorming with one another,” Dahlen said. “All of us are good friends, and it’s truly a blessing to be able to spend time together to make this dream Shabbat of ours into a reality. We get to make music together, share Torah with one another and shape prayer together. What could be better?”
Lader was excited to be the coordinating rabbi at Temple Israel to work on projects like this for a “new, fun, upcoming generation of young Jewish adults in Detroit.”
“My favorite kind of Shabbat services are filled with wordless melodies that allow the worshipper to interject their own meditations and intentions rather than be constrained to the words on a page,” she said. “This is a generation craving spirituality and relationships, and we wanted to create a service that appeals to a wider audience. It will be as open and inclusive as possible. We want to create a Shabbat experience where no one will feel like an outsider.”
Due to donors, subsidized tickets are $14. To RSVP, go to temple-israel.org.