Alternative Shabbat Experiences Offered this Summer

by Talya Hyman, Shalom New Haven Intern


This summer, experience the enjoyment of Shabbat with congregations throughout Greater New Haven as services are conducted beneath the stars, by a lake, and even on the beach! 


Many community members are looking for an environment in which to experience their Judaism, without the formality of belonging to a synagogue. Additionally, traditional religious services within synagogue settings can be daunting and confining for some. 


With this in mind, the open-door nature of the scheduled events allow for Jews across all denominations to come together in a pressure-free and fun environment. Those seeking a leisurely albeit spiritual Shabbat experience should look no further than these seasonal, alternative services being offered. 


The various Shabbat services are being offered with the goal of ultimately inspiring us all to discover the beauty and depth of our own individual Jewish experience. Once we each uncover our personal sense of belonging, may we all connect-- as one Greater New Haven Jewish community-- to the inherent sanctity of Shabbat, together. 

Temple Emanuel of Greater New Haven, located in Orange, is offering their Shabbat Under the Stars services on June 28 and July 26, both at 7:30 p.m. on the synagogue lawn, so don’t forget lawn chairs! The congregation has also scheduled their Shabbat on the Beach services at Walnut Beach in Milford for August 2 at 6:30 p.m. and August 30 at 6 p.m. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. on September 6, their annual BBQ picnic gets underway with games and activities, followed by outdoor Shabbat services at 6 p.m. 


Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek of Chester is planning to hold Shabbat services at Cedar Lake on July 12 at 5:30 p.m., which will be accompanied by a brown bag dinner. Everyone is invited to partake in the abridged service, games, and swimming. A Shabbat BBQ is scheduled for August 9.


Congregation Or Shalom of Orange has scheduled their annual Shabbat on the Beach service at Gulf Beach in Milford on August 16 at 7:00 p.m. Participants are suggested to dress casually, to wear a hat (as yarmulkes may fly away), and to bring a beach chair or blanket. Beginning at 6:15 p.m., PJ Library will be co-sponsoring the event, so children are encouraged to attend. Shabbat stories will be shared and songs will be sung.


Temple Beth David of Cheshire will be holding their Outdoor Ruach Shabbat on August 16 at 5:15 p.m. The synagogue’s website describes the event as a “Shabbat with a little bit of soul and a whole lot of spirit!” Participants should bring their own dinner, and a dessert to share.


Congregation B’nai Jacob of Woodbridge is arranging a Shabbat on the Shore service for July 19. Planning is still underway. 


Temple Beth Tikvah of Madison is hosting two Beach Shabbats, scheduled for July 19 and August 9, both at 6 p.m. at East Wharf Beach Pavilion. 


As details of the various events are forthcoming, community members are encouraged to check the synagogues’ websites for updates and more information.