ShabbatUK took the Giffnock Jewish community in the UK by storm last month, taking part in many hundreds of ShabbatUK themed events in the weeks leading up to ShabbatUK and on Shabbat itself. A hundred synagogues and communities across the country took part in ShabbatUK events across the country, including a community wide challah make at Giffnock Hebrew Congregation, with members of the community making the traditional plaited bread to be served on Shabbat.
Other communal events included Havdalah (the blessing at the completion of Shabbat) concerts and communal Friday night dinners. Activities took place both in the week prior to ShabbatUK, on Shabbat itself and on Motzei Shabbat (Saturday Night).
The largest events included the Kabbalat ShabbatUK concert in Lee Valley Athletic Centre, which saw 1,500 children from 20 schools across London come together to sing and dance all in the ShabbatUK spirit. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ attendance added to the excitement. The final ShabbatUK event was the HavdalahUK concert. Over 1,400 people flocked to Watford Colosseum to enjoy the melodies of the Portnoy Brothers and internationally acclaimed Acapella group, the Maccabeats to mark the end of ShabbatUK.
Schools across London, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow also got involved in the excitement, with students encouraged to participate both in their community events and events planned within school time. The ShabbatUK ice cream van visited countless events around the country, providing free Ice Cream to more than five thousand people and with many older students assisting at Community events over the weekend of ShabbatUK by acting as guides for younger children. The youngest registered volunteer was 3 years old, dedicated to the cause as he put flyers out on every chair for 1000 people in Kinloss United Synagogue.
In efforts to cater for the needs of participants with hearing loss, visual impairment and other disabilities, specialist schools, synagogues and community centres held inclusive and neuro-diverse events to facilitate their participation. These included challah makes with sign interpreted assistance to enable all participants to knead and braid their challot (Plural) with flair.
This year more than any other, large corporate firms got involved with ShabbatUK. Clifford Chance hosted a special ShabbatUK lunch and learn, Deloitte hosted a Jewish Network challah make with 100 professionals from Goldman Sachs, Linklaters, PWC and Bank of America. KPMG hosted an interfaith challah make with 60 people from all the faith networks across KPMG and finally Investec became ShabbatUK’s first ever major corporate supporter this year.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “ShabbatUK is no ordinary fixture in the Jewish calendar. It is a phenomenon which inspires so many Jews across the country regardless of affiliation or level of religious observance. I have been so inspired to see how this year, parts of our community who have never previously taken part, have celebrated at events around the country. My sincere hope is that people take the message of ShabbatUK to heart, to become more inspired, proud and committed Jews.”
Prime Minister Theresa May send a message of support for ShabbatUK: “Wishing #ShabbatUK Shalom to all taking part in @chiefrabbi’s Great Shabbat Switch Off who are enjoying family & community time this weekend.”