Lighting up the lot—Families gather for a socially distanced Havdalah

November 25, 2020

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On a beautiful, warm November evening, the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus’s parking lot turned into a place for families to gather for Havdalah. Called Havadallah on the Lot, the event was organized and led by PJ Library in Tidewater. As cars arrived, each family was given a bag with everything they would need to perform the Havdalah ceremony including a braided candle, spices, grape juice, and blessings cards. Families were ushered to their own area where they could set up their picnic dinner and children began to decorate their spot with provided sidewalk chalk. There was plenty of anticipation and excitement as so many friends had not gathered in months.

With darkness setting in, Cantor Wendi Fried from Congregation Beth El and musician David Cardon performed the Havdalah songs and prayers as the PJ Library in Tidewater team handed out hot chocolate. Although it wasn’t a cold night, the kids enjoyed the special treat and many returned for seconds. Shortly after the service ended, a virtual Shana Shel Shira (Year of Song) concert featuring Rick Recht, Shira Kline, and Rabbi Josh Warshawski was played on a large inflatable screen.

“The committee was so excited to help plan a safe, in-person event for families in the community,” says Stephanie Steerman, co-chair, United Jewish Federation of Tidewater Children and Family Committee. “Knowing that being outside is safest and the weather is starting to become cooler, we had to act fast. Havdalah on the Lot was a great event! The adults were so happy to just be together and the kids had the most fun sharing Havdalah, drinking hot chocolate, and running around with glow sticks.”

“This event was much needed and a very welcome step in the direction back to normalcy,” says Jade Rouzea. “As new Strelitz parents, we have desired that connection with the other parents. Even in the dark, this event provided just that. The great Havdalah bag gave us everything we needed!”

Erinn Portnoy says her family “had a great time and felt safe,” and that they “loved the Havdalah supplies and will use them again at home. The kids loved running around the parking lot playing with their friends. It was great seeing people we had not for some time.”

“We’re all looking forward to future in-person events where we can safely gather and celebrate together as a community!” says Steerman.

For more information about PJ Library in Tidewater and programs like these, contact Nofar Trem at ntrem@ujft.org.

- Nofar Trem

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