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Chavurat Shalom to hold High Holy Days events

By Staff | Sep 2, 2020

No longer able to safely gather to socialize, learn, conduct or attend services due to COVID-19, a group of area Jews decided to take advantage of the Zoom technology to forge a path to a new community. They created Chavurat Shalom — a Jewish egalitarian group — to gather in casual settings and study, learn and celebrate the Jewish cultural heritage and religious traditions. When the health risks lessen, arrangements will be made to meet in-person.

Chavurat Shalom, which means “Fellowship of Peace,” welcomes those from the islands, Fort Myers and other nearby locations — including visitors and snowbirds — who seek to share common interests and values in order to enlighten and enrich their Jewish lives. The Chavurah is not affiliated with any Jewish organized movement. It is not headed by a clergy person; it is community-led. Each participant has an equal voice in the affairs of the group and may participate to whatever extent they wish.

Chavurat Shalom holds Friday Shabbat services at 6 p.m. via Zoom, led by the participants. On Saturdays at 11 a.m., Leonard Minsky moderates Jewish/Israeli current events that include such topics as anti-Semitism on college campuses, U.S. Jews’ views about Israel and more. On Thursdays at 11 a.m., participants and other invited speakers offer presentations on topics like Mordecai Kaplan, treatment of animals in the Bible, cults, Jews in India, women in the Bible, Kabbalah, and Spinoza.

The following special events are planned in recognition of the High Holy Days:

– Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.: Rabbi James Rudin will lead a “What’s Faith Got To Do With It?” discussion about the meaning of the Days of Awe. The Saturday evening before Rosh Hashanah is called Selichot.

– Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.: Rabbi Dr. Danny Schiff will speak about the “High Holy Days Without a Synagogue: Achieving Transformation Beyond Prayer.” A noted teacher and researcher in Jewish ethics, he is the foundation scholar at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and founder and president of the Museum of Jewish Ideas.

– Sept. 27 at 11 a.m.: Special remembrance program to acknowledge those who were lost the past year, as well as to remember those always thought about at this time of the year on the Jewish calendar.

Programs are open to those who have an interest in being part of the Jewish community and wish to explore Judaism. To receive a Zoom link for an upcoming program, email chavuratshalom@gmail.com. For more information about Chavurat Shalom, visit www.chavuratshalomofsouthwestflorida.org.

Chavurat Shalom wishes the community Shana Tovah, a good and healthy New Year. Focusing hopes and prayers, may 5781 be a better year, a year in which communal gatherings are again possible.