Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill synagogue will participate in Shabbat Across America

Rabbi Lenny Sarko and Lynn Budnick, director of education, participate in a Tot Shabbat service at Temple Beth David in Spring Hill.

Photo by David Hoffman.

Rabbi Lenny Sarko and Lynn Budnick, director of education, participate in a Tot Shabbat service at Temple Beth David in Spring Hill.

SPRING HILL — Even though it happens every week, Rabbi Lenny Sarko believes that Shabbat is the most important day on the Jewish calendar.

"The idea that there is a day of rest, a day of prayer, a day of study, a day to share with family and friends has been a paramount and foundational concept in the Jewish religion since its advent of over 2,000 years ago," said Sarko, of Temple Beth David in Spring Hill.

In Jewish custom, the Five Books of Moses, or Torah, are divided into 54 segments. Biblical readings from the books, called Parshiot, are assigned by date.

"This means that whatever synagogue or Jewish service you walk into around the world, we will all be doing the same reading from the Jewish bible on that date, on that Shabbat," Sarko said. "This connects the Jewish people around the world."

A newer custom that unites Jews in North America is the celebration of Shabbat Across America (as well as in Canada). This year, the program, which was conceived and organized by the National Jewish Outreach Program in 1997 for the purpose of revitalizing Sabbath observance, will be celebrated Friday.

Temple Beth David will be one of several hundred synagogues across the continent to participate.

"This is the fourth year that Temple Beth David is hosting Shabbat Across America," said event organizer Marlene Shaw. "The response from those who have attended before has been overwhelmingly positive."

The evening at Temple Beth David will begin at 6 p.m. with a candle-lighting by the women, a blessing of the children and parents by Sarko, and the blessing of the wine and bread. The meal will include traditional matzo ball soup, followed by salad, herb-roasted chicken, orzo pilaf and green beans almondine.

A topic of Jewish interest will be discussed by each table and shared with the group after the service.

"Hosts at each table will make each guest feel comfortable, so those who have never come to the temple before should feel at ease," Shaw said.

The rabbi will conduct an abbreviated Shabbat service, and the evening will conclude with singing and an Oneg Shabbat (dessert and fellowship).

"(The program) causes us to pause and recognize our connection to the Jewish people, wherever they are, and to do so by coming together in prayer and study and by having a meal together on the same day, on Shabbat, within our own communities," Sarko said.

The connection to Jewish people around the world is important to Sarko.

"Our synagogue recognizes the importance not only of participating in our religious activities locally, but in our connection with other Jewish people around the world," he said. "We are making a statement that there are common goals, issues and needs to be addressed that go beyond our local condition, and that we here at Beth David wish to be part of that larger discussion and participation."

Shaw believes that observing Shabbat is a keystone to the Jewish faith and that Shabbat Across America provides a means for people to reconnect with their faith.

"We feel that it is an opportunity for Jewish and interfaith families who may not have had a Shabbat experience in a while to join with our members in a warm, haimish (homey) environment," she said. "The fact that hundreds of synagogues all across American and Canada will also be hosting similar programs gives this event an even broader appeal."

Sarko hopes people outside the temple will come.

"Shabbat is a wonderful experience, even if you are not Jewish," he said. "Hospitality is one of our foundational principles, and this particular program includes educational and social interactions, not to mention good food, which is always a way for the community to get together in peace and friendship."

Breaking bread together promotes communication and begins to build bridges toward a broader, stronger and better community, Sarko said.

Recently, Sarko has initiated some different types of Shabbat services with a broader appeal, including a Tot Shabbat, designed for children ages 8 and younger and their parents, and a "rock'n" musical service featuring a guest pianist along with the rabbi on guitar.

"Religion can be approached in any number of ways," Sarko said. "Different people, depending on age and background, have different needs religiously, spiritually, educationally and socially. By providing different programs of Shabbat, we are trying to fill the needs of the diverse Jewish population that lives in our community."

. Fast facts

If you go

Temple Beth David, 13158 Antelope St., Spring Hill, will celebrate Shabbat Across America on Friday. Rabbi Lenny Sarko will officiate at the traditional Shabbat dinner at 6 p.m. and at the service at 8 p.m. The dinner costs $12 for adults and $5 for children under 13. The event is open to families and individuals of all ages. Reservations are required by Monday. Call (352) 686-7034.

Spring Hill synagogue will participate in Shabbat Across America 02/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 4:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]