The summer soft winds of June fluttered the leaves of the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre as families from all over the cities gathered for the third annual Friday Night Live Shabbat Experience Under the Stars sponsored by Craig Taubman, of Craig N'Co, and Sinai Temple.
Many families elected to bring their Shabbat dinners along with them and picnic in the ample open air rest spots before the Shabbat service while others ordered their box dinners or value meals from the concessions stand. There as the mezzanine level, patrons had an opportunity, through the assistance of the Shalom Institute and Camp, to bless the candles, say kiddush over the wine or bless the challah bread. Kids, too, had a chance to color cards with Sherrie Firouz for the soldiers going away.
Created 15 years ago, by Taubman and Rabbi David Wolpe, who was named by Newsweek as the most influential Rabbi in America, this ground breaking spiritual service was done as a gift to the whole community. Joining Taubman and Wolpe were Rabbis Nicole Guzik and Ed Feinstein, the later of Valley Beth Shalom.
Friday Night Live included musical performances by Duvid Swirsky and George Komsky along with the renowned cellist Lynn Harrell and his wife, Helen Nightengale as well as Yasha Michelson's jazz, Ashira, Rick Lupert, and Ari Herstand.
Barchu Nazarian Shofar started the service as Noah sounded the ram's horn, while the meditative melody was joined by the Life Choir .
I believe it was WC Fields who said "Never work with kids or animals." Craig obviously ignored that lesson. A special treat, rather unexpected, and much to the delight of the audience, a pink princess, Aidan Gorin, got up on stage and did impromtu, improv dances to the melodies.
Normally there would be no charge for a Friday night service and certain, when it is done throughout the year at the Temple, which is held the second Friday night of each month, but because they had to rent the space at the Ford there was a nominal fee of $10-20 depending on if you wanted the VIP seating and free gift.
Many took advantage of the free shuttle service from the Universal City Metro Station, which starts up to two hours before each performance at the Ford and deposits you on the third level next to the theatre. This is especially helpful for those with disabilities.
Save up coming dates - July 12 (7:30 pm) for the Social Action Shabbat and August 9 for the Meditative Shabbat. Both of these are at Sinai Temple on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. Call (310) 474-1518 for more information on these.
Sinai Temple and Craig N Co are avid supporters of The Pico Union - a place where people of all faiths and all walks of life can come together to celebrate Holy days, holidays and the holy in every day. Honoring each other's humanity, it works to spread the message of inclusion through music, dance, prayer and communal education.
More information about the Pico Union Project or other events can be had from CraigNCo at 818 760 1077 or by visiting www.craignco.com.