Celebrating Shabbat Together in Turkey

Our Shabbat event was amazing! We had so much fun. I got the idea when I was sent to a Tzeadim Yesod training program in Jerusalem, and we went to an amazing Kabbalat Shabbat event. I wanted to have an experience like that in my community, and we did it! Now we have people celebrating -- congratulating us, saying they didn't understand the concept before and asking when we'll hold another one. I'm so happy.

August 1, 2016

Our Shabbat event was amazing! We had so much fun.

I got the idea when I was sent to a Tzeadim Yesod training program in Jerusalem, and we went to an amazing Kabbalat Shabbat event. I wanted to have an experience like that in my community, and we did it! Now we have people celebrating — congratulating us, saying they didn’t understand the concept before and asking when we’ll hold another one. I’m so happy.

The challah-making activity drew more people than expected — 35 women together, most making challah for the first time in their lives, including me! We learned the importance and the meaning of the ritual, and we had a chance to speak and eat together.

We also had live music, dancing, and songs. The music was so good! The dance circle was about 15 people, all coming together to enjoy the day.

A third part was fantastic, too! At our synagogue with a view of the sea, we were very creative. We managed to separate the men’s and women’s side with flowers, a solution everyone was comfortable with.

Later, we had a powerful seder. It was breathtaking to see all of us singing together. I didn’t even know we knew how! Sixty-nine people together for a special Shabbat seder. Wow. I am so proud of bringing people together for Shabbat, making a dream come true, enjoying and learning together with friends.

Events like this really help strengthen our Turkish Jewish community. I am proud of our history. We’ve been in this land for such a long time. We also have very strong lay leadership.

Still, seeing new things and experiencing new traditions creates a better future. Together, there are many more things to explore, many more ways to be Jewish and to be proud of being Jewish.

On a regular Friday there are about 180 people in the JCC. For this event, we had 270 people, so we know we made an impact.

Between us, I felt glorious.

Lisya Behar is the program director of JCC Alef in Istanbul.

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