How to Occupy Shabbat in your community

Meet the new Shabbat- Same as the old Shabbat.
One Generation got old…Got a revolution Got to revolution

Forty years ago, the Jewish Catalog gave instructions for creating a pot-luck local Shabbat as a way of bringing the spirit of the Havurah to your own community. Unlike the stuffy organized synagogue, this shabbat would be participatory, celebratory, and have a counter-culture ethos. At the same time NCSY put out a little mustard colored pamphlet on how to run a circa 1972 shabbaton of asking to use the basement of a synagogue, invite friends, photocopy benchers, find a kosher take-out store for food. Unlike the stuffy organized synagogue, this shabbat would be ruah, singing, and participatory. The ethos would be counter counter-culture, how you dont need the counter-culture.

Now we have a wave of social-action, occupy {insert location here}, and feeling the establishment is against social -justice. They feel that Judaism has become injustice and libertarianism. There is a new blog called Occupy Judaism with the byline “Bringing Occupy Wall Street to the Jews.” In it we have an important document to recreate Shabbat as an Occupy Shabbat. Unlike the stuffy organized synagogue, this one will be social action oriented. The 1970’s rejected the organizational man of the 1950’s and this one rejects the organizational man of the 1990’s. As I read it, it looks and sounds like many documents of the early 1970’s, except for the absence of the faux-Hasidic ideal. It could almost have been written by NJOP of Effie Buchwald circa 1980 (except for the egalitarianism.)
For those old enough to remember, substitute at the right places “Save Soviet Jewry” “Russia is not healthy for Jews and other living things” “Free Biafra” “Never Again”

Want to Occupy Shabbat in your community? Here’s how to get started!

Start planning a week in advance.
Decide whether you want to do Kabbalat Shabbat and a potluck dinner, or just a potluck dinner.
Check in with your local occupation’s relevant working groups to make sure you won’t be creating a disturbance and find a good location to hold your event. Aim for a place that’s relatively quiet and decently lit at night.
Create an online sign-up sheet where people can volunteer to take on responsibilities for different pieces of the service or dinner. We recommended either Google Docs or Etherpad.
For Kabbalat Shabbat:
Determine what kind of service you want to have. Aim for the highest level of inclusivity as possible according to the needs of your community.
Aim for gender neutrality – welcoming people of all genders to lead and participate in services, without division.
You will want to find experienced volunteers to lead services – preferably one for Kabbalat Shabbat and one for Maariv.
If you expect a larger crowd, you may want to have several people with strong voices supporting the service leader.
If you need help learning the liturgy, check out Siddur Audio.
You may want to bring extra siddurim (prayer books), kippot/yarlmulkes, and instruments (if applicable) for those that do not have or who forget to bring their own.
For Shabbat dinner:
You will need volunteers to say the blessings over grape juice and challah, as well as birkat hamazon (grace after meals).
Make sure that potluck participants sign-up to bring a kiddush cup, grape juice, challah, a challah cover, water for people to wash with, a towel for hand drying, and some bentshers (prayerbooks containing grace after meals and Shabbat songs). You will also need bags for trash and recycling.
If it will be cold and/or wet outside, consider bringing a folding table.
Try to ensure an even mix of appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Encourage people to bring either their own reusable plates and utensils from home, or biodegradable plates, utensils and napkins to share with others. Don’t forget serving utensils!
For either Kabbalat Shabbat or Shabbat dinner:
You should find someone to give a d’var tzdek – a short Torah teaching that connects the efforts of the Occupy Wall Street movement back to either the current Torah portion or to Jewish values more broadly. Check out AJWS and Jewcology for ideas.
Create a Facebook, Tumblr or Eventbrite page calling for a Kabbalat Shabbat service and/or Shabbat potluck dinner at your local occupation.
Set the start-time for shortly after sundown.
Specify the location where you’ll be meeting.
Be sure to include the link to your volunteer sign-up sheet.
Tell people to bring their own prayer books or to download and print out their own prayer sheets (Kabbalat Shabbat | Shabbat Meal).
If the space is not terribly well-lit, let folks know who are non-halakhic to bring flashlights or headlamps to read by.
Let people know your event is open to non-Jewish observers and participants.
Invite every Jew you know in your local area! Ask your friends who say ‘Yes’ to invite their friends as well.
Share the event with Facebook and Google groups frequented by Jews in your local community.
Reach out to progressive Jewish congregations and Jewish social justice organizations in your community and ask them to partner with or promote your event.
Share the event on your local occupation’s Facebook page, as well as tweeting it at them.
Post your event to the Occupy Judaism Facebook page and tweet it at us as well. Use the hashtag #occupyshabbat.
Let your local Jewish newspaper and blogs know!
Consider having an email sign-up sheet the day of your event for people who are comfortable writing on Shabbat. Try to have a clipboard handy.
If your event is a success, consider building on the momentum by setting up an Occupy Judaism Facebook or Google group for your local community. Use the group to plan future actions: those that bring more Jews out to your local occupation and those that bring the values of the occupation back to your Jewish community.
Consider having members of your group join the working group at your local occupation that deals with outreach to the spiritual/religious community.
Have your group’s key organizers join the Occupy Judaism National Working Group (which is far less daunting than it sounds). Email us at info at occupyjudaism dot org.
Source is here

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