"Just one Shabbos and we'll all be free," religious rocker Mordechai Ben David sang back in the 1980s. Well, for the last decade, one Jewish organization has tried to get people to experience Shabbat at least once a year. The National Jewish Outreach Project (NJOP) on March 3 celebrates its 10th anniversary of Shabbat Across America, where more than 650 synagogues of all denominations will host Friday night services and a traditional Shabbat meal around the country.
"Shabbat Across America/Canada allows Jews -- many of whom have never enjoyed any Sabbath experience -- to come together to get a real feel for one of the Jewish tradition's greatest treasures," said Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, founder and director of NJOP.
Buchwald founded NJOP in 1987 to address issues of assimilation and lack of Jewish knowledge. NJOP also provides classes and programs as well as Shabbat Across America, which some 850,000 people have attended over the years.
For the 10th anniversary dinner, held at locations around Los Angeles and the Valley, the organization has produced "Gourmet Shabbat: Recipe for a Friday Night Experience," a 32-page color booklet that includes an explanation of rituals, prayers and 10 recipes from top chefs around the country. Wolfgang Puck chimes in with gefilte fish, Jean-Georges Vongerichten with brisket, Sara Moulton with Grated Carrot Salad. The booklet -- a takeaway gift to all participants and also available online -- is meant to provide Shabbat newbies a recipe for a traditional meal.
"Shabbat is not merely a series of gourmet meals," Buchwald said. "Shabbat is an environment of light, peace, domestic tranquility and song. But most of all, an environment of sanctity."
The following synagogues are hosting NJOP in Los Angeles:
•Adat Shalom, 3030 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles (310) 475-4985
•Temple Bet T'shuvah, 8831 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles (310) 204-5200
•Helkeinu Foundation (310) 785-0440
•Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, 9350 Civic Center Drive, Beverly Hills (310) 203-0170
•Chabad of Burbank, 1921 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank (818) 954-0070
•Pacific Jewish Center, 505 Oceanfront Walk, Venice (310) 392-8749
•Temple Mishkon Tephilo, 201 Hampton Drive and 206 Main St., Venice (310) 392-3029
•Maohr Torah, 1537 Franklin St., Santa Monica (310) 657-5500
•Temple Sinai, 1212 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale (818) 246-8101
•Temple Beth Hillel, 12326 Riverside Drive, Valley Village (818) 763-9148
•Beth Shir Sholom, 1827 California Ave., Santa Monica (310) 453-3361
•Congregation Tifereth Jacob, 1829 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach (310) 546-3667
•Makom Ohr Shalom, 5619 Lindley Ave., Tarzana (818) 725-7600
•Jewish Home for the Aging, 18855 Victory Blvd., Reseda (818) 774-3018
For more information, visit NJOP.org