Fairfield University's first Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner to be held at sunset on February 4


Event is part of effort to celebrate all faiths at Fairfield

Jewish New Year

On Friday, February 4 at 5:30 p.m., the Fairfield University community and the public is welcome to attend the university's first ever Kabbalat Shabbat service - a Jewish worship service with prayers and songs welcoming the Sabbath.

The service and Shabbat dinner that follows are part of a concerted effort to celebrate all faiths at Fairfield, a hallmark of the institution's Jesuit mission. Shabbat is the Hebrew word for the Sabbath. For Jews, it begins when the sun sets each Friday. Considered a day of great joy, it's a time to set aside everyday concerns and focus on spirituality.

"The service we're having is called a 'Kabbalat Shabbat' service, meaning literally 'receiving the Sabbath,' " said Ellen Umansky, Ph.D, the director of the university's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, a co-sponsor of the event. "It is a fairly brief service welcoming the Sabbath, who traditionally is imagined as a bride. Rabbi Suri Krieger will be leading the service, with participation by members of the university community."

The Office of the University Chaplain is also co-sponsoring the service, taking place in the new interfaith prayer service at 42 Bellarmine Road (the former St. Ignatius Jesuit Residence), located near the Barlow Road entrance to campus. It's the first of monthly Shabbat services planned for the community.

Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, S.J., university chaplain, said Jesuit universities should be places where members of diverse religious communities, and people who belong to none, encounter one another and learn from one another. "It is the right of religious communities to practice their traditions openly, and the responsibility of a Jesuit University to encourage and to assist them in being able to do so," he said. "The upcoming Kabbalat Shabbat service is one more step forward in building a campus culture that is fully faithful to its Catholic heritage while becoming in action, worship and conversation authentically diverse and more alive with the vitality that depends on the gifts and perspectives of all the members of the Fairfield community."

To inaugurate this new event, a Shabbat dinner will take place immediately afterwards. The dinner is free of charge but reservations are required. RVSP by Monday, January 31, to Elaine Bowman at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066 or EUmansky@fairfield.edu. Dietary laws will be observed.

Image: The Bennett Center for Judaic Studies is co-sponsoring the university's first ever Kabbalat Shabbat service - a Jewish worship service with prayers and songs welcoming the Sabbath. Past Bennett Center events have included a Jewish New Year celebration.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 28, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 177

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