“When can we go for Shabbat?” Beth Lomasky says she hears that refrain a lot these days from her 3-year old granddaughter, Callie, who has been attending PJ Shabbat Club at the JCC’s Family Room since she was only 3-months old. Before PJ Shabbat Club was halted due to COVID, Callie and her younger sister, Lola, had been attending every Friday. It was here that both girls tasted their first Challah bread and learned songs about Shabbat.
PJ Shabbat Club has an extra-special meaning for Beth. Her daughter, Sara is in an inter-faith marriage and she is “so happy that the children have the opportunity to be exposed to Jewish traditions”. While engaging in Jewish culture creates a feeling of connection for most families, for those in inter-faith families, it can make them feel warmly welcomed into the Jewish community.
Beth feels that it is important to instill kind Jewish values, like tzedakah or charity. This means helping other children who have less than they do.
The weekly Shabbat in the Family Room Parenting Center is a free program open to the community, where parents and grandparents, can experience Shabbat, meet other families and get parenting tips. Many of the grandparents want to share the joy of Judaism and Shabbat traditions through an age-appropriate program, especially those whose grandchildren are in inter-faith families. In these cases, the PJ Shabbat Club may be their only exposure to Jewish traditions and how other families celebrate in their own homes.
Sitting at the table set with candlesticks, Kiddush cups and the challah under the cover, Beth and the children say the blessings, eat Challah and pretend drink from their own Kiddush cup. This hands-on learning experience has become their tradition of welcoming Shabbat. For Beth, saying the blessings with Hebrew words and breaking bread with friends-new and old-has been a blessing in itself.
Beth Lomasky and her granddaughters, Callie and Lola, at PJ Shabbat.