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Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel
432 Scotland Road
South Orange, NJ 07079

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Release Date: Monday, March 09, 2015

Media Contact: Caryl Bixon-Gordon (201) 796-7788

Home-Hosted Shabbat Dinners Build Community Among Reform Synagogue Members

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., Mar. 9, 2015 – Members of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) recently enjoyed a special tradition with Shabbat B'Bayit or "Shabbat in the home." Congregants of all ages shared Shabbat dinner at host members' homes throughout the area, including South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills and West Orange. Participants lit candles together and recited the traditional Jewish prayers that usher in a Sabbath meal. Many were matched with TSTI members they did not already know as a way to foster new friendships.

"Shabbat B'Bayit is one of my favorite TSTI traditions," said Rabbi Daniel Cohen, the Reform synagogue's spiritual leader. "It's a wonderful way for our congregants to experience the beauty of Shabbat and the warmth of our community."

The home-hosted dinners, which started in 2002 but had not taken place for several years, were enthusiastically welcomed back as 67 families of over 175 people, from newborn to age 90, gathered in the homes of 13 temple members. The evening began with a brief communal service at TSTI, after which congregants headed to their host family homes for dinner. The synagogue's organizing committee supplied each host with a gift basket containing challah, candles, wine and prayer sheets, as well as child-friendly activities for homes with youngsters present.

Shabbat B'Bayit committee chair Andrea Baum noted, "Shabbat B'Bayit has helped to create lasting relationships within the TSTI community. When we announced at a board meeting that we were reviving this program, many members pointed at someone across the table who they had met at a previous Shabbat B'Bayit dinner and now consider to be a friend."

Temple President Craig Krandel and his wife Judy, who live in West Orange, stopped in at several homes during the evening. "My goal this year has been for TSTI to develop new ways to engage more members in different activities. There is no question Shabbat B'Bayit hit a home run." The Krandels visited hosts in Maplewood and Millburn.

"We loved having everyone together with our family for Shabbat B'Bayit," said Karyn Leit of Maplewood, who served as an event host with her husband, David. "It was a great opportunity to get to know other TSTI members in a relaxed setting."

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, located at 432 Scotland Road serves member families from Maplewood, the Oranges, Livingston, Millburn, Short Hills and surrounding areas. The vibrant congregation offers Jewish preschool, Religious school, teen programs, lifelong learning for adults, and a full complement of religious services and cultural programs each month. For more information, visit http://www.tsti.org/.