Shabbat Shalom
MATOT/MAS'EI|2 Av 5775
Num. 30:2-31:54 | Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
This Shabbat, Myra Shneider shares 
Celebrating Shabbat 

The possibilities of Shabbat never reached my conscious understanding until I spent three weeks at BBYO's International Leadership Training Conference (ILTC) in the Pocono Mountains during the summer of 1968.

I had been raised in a Conservative congregation, went to Sunday and Hebrew schools, and was even Bat Mitzvah (chanting Haftorah on Friday night). But, in fact, I was from a pretty non-observant family. We would have nice dinners at Rosh HaShanah and sedarim at Passover. But weekly rituals? None that were based in Judaism. Mom and Dad worked on Saturday (oh, the joys of retail ownership) and Dad usually brought paperwork home to do on Sunday.

And then I went to ILTC. For the first time in my life, I lived by Jewish time. Shabbat was a big deal - cleaning up the camp and ourselves, changing into white clothes, Kabbalat Shabbat outside and then moving inside for Shabbat dinner and singing, singing, singing, and ending the evening with Israeli folk dance. WOW!! And that was just Friday night.

Saturday had a different schedule and a very different feel. Shabbat electives provided opportunities to study many new Jewish subjects with new interesting people. Experiencing Havdallah was eye-opening. My world would never be the same. Yes, I had learned leadership skills but, even more important, I had experienced Judaism on so many levels that it would become part of my life.

Upon my return home, I began new (to me) rituals - lighting candles to usher in Shabbat using my grandmother's candlesticks from Europe, and, on occasion, going to synagogue on Friday night. But it just wasn't the same because I did these things alone. I really didn't have "my community" to share them.

Fast forward to summers of '71 and '72, when I had the opportunities to work as a counselor at Union Camp Institute (now Goldman UCI). I was the proverbial sponge - absorbing everything....the study sessions and activities, the arts, the use of Hebrew, developing relationships and creating community, the celebration of Shabbat and the integration of all of it into our weekly lives. I loved it. And I would replicate it whenever and wherever I could. Celebrating Shabbat became important to my life.

Both music and community are the reasons I joined Beth Emet. Once I was no longer employed in the Jewish community, I felt something was missing in my life and it was time to affiliate. During my first trip to Beth Emet, I found Cantor Jeff Klepper on the bimah (as a songleader with BBYO, I had been singing his music for years) and other friends from the Jewish community. I also found Sophie Black on the bimah in her role as president and loved the inclusion of the matriarchs in the liturgy. What a change from my upbringing. I had found a place to be comfortable. I was excited and never looked elsewhere.

I became a regular at Friday night services, which, at that time, began at 8:30 p.m. While I often struggled with staying awake (after working a full day and commuting downtown), I was always glad I had made the effort. I learned to chant Torah and was able to participate actively in the service. Cantor Klepper further honored me by allowing me to fill in for him when he was unavailable. Shabbat - at least Friday night - became my reward at the end of the week.


A Beth Emet member for more than 25 years, Myra Shneider is a retired social worker still trying to figure out her next career. In the meantime, you can find her singing with Kol Zimrah (Jewish Community Singers) and Beth Emet's High Holiday choir. 


Each Friday during 5775, we are featuring writings from you, our congregants, sharing reflections on Shabbat. We hope you will be inspired to share your reflections with the community. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Stacey Zisook Robinson
This Shabbat at Beth Emet

Friday, July 17
6:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. reception) Kabbalat Shabbat in the Sanctuary. 
Saturday, July 18
9:00 a.m. Tot Shabbat and Kiddush at Lighthouse Beach Park/Noah's Playground (2611 Sheridan Rd., Evanston)
9:45 a.m.  Kahal Shabbat in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader 
Rabbi Toby Manewith and  Torah Discussion Leader Andy Montgomery. Welcoming Veronika Slavik to the Jewish Community.

9:30 a.m.  
 Shabbat Minyan in Room 208. 
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