Stay a bit longer.
Last Friday night, most of the forty-nine families in our 2yr old programs came together for a Shabbat dinner here at the JCC. The evening was a testament to the power of community as families schmoozed, mingled, ate, drank, and played together for a few hours. Many of the older siblings (fresh off their work as junior interns!) reveled in the opportunity to be the biggest kids in the room. Several JCC staff joined in, myself and Felicia Gordon included, to hang out with the children and deepen relationships with parents. Tonight, our 3yr old programs will come together for their Shabbat dinner; on May 2nd, our preK families will do the same.
While the Hebrew blessings around the candles, wine, and challah are the linchpin that allows for events like this to happen, they were not in fact the most important piece of the evening. The feeling of being at home, of playing in a friend’s living room, was the overriding feeling throughout the dinner. As children finished their dinner (or escaped their parents’ gaze, whichever happened first), they congregated on several large floor mats filled with toys and books. True to their 2yr old form, first came dumping of every bucket of toys, followed by a manic game of chase, and then a transition to quiet read-alouds with teachers and productive Magna-tile building with friends.
A community Shabbat dinner is much more than ritual observance. It is a chance to find release and solace from the events of the work and school week, a chance to stay a bit longer and relax. At each dinner our families are invited to use this time and space like your living room; stay and mingle well past the official “end time” of the dinner.
In our school community, we view Judaism as a vehicle through which we access values. Shabbat dinners are a way to access the value of peacefulness, leisure, and community. Come enjoy them with us, together.
I invite you to use the JCC as your living room beyond the time of these Shabbat dinners. Next time you do drop off, bring your breakfast and stay a bit longer in the common space. If you have a PM drop off, bring lunch for you, your child, and a friend and have a picnic in the common space before class. Have some time to kill between AM drop and a morning meeting? Bring the Times and your coffee and use the new adult table in the elevator vestibule (with another coming shortly for the common space). Planning a play date? Use the JCC roof after 3pm (when nursery classes are done).
Stay a bit longer. When your class, program, or Shabbat dinner ends, our building is still open to you. Use us as your living room.