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Shabbat in the Park – Hot, but Great!

Three-digit temperatures didn’t get in the way of the San Fernando Jewish community’s beloved annual Shabbat in the Park tradition. Over 500 people gathered together at Warner Center Park on August 14th for a very warm — literally and figuratively — celebration of the Day of Rest.

It was a lively and enthusiastic evening — attendees picnicked, danced with the encouragement of the Keshet Chaim Dancers, swayed to the music of the Iliana Rose and David Zasloff Band (which featured Jewish songs with a Cuban beat), and welcomed Shabbat with rabbis and cantors from synagogues across the Valley, from Valley Village to Thousand Oaks.

Before the service even began, people of all ages were having a good time. Younger children and their parents enjoyed a variety of art projects, including candle decorating and creating PJ Library placemats, and young adults marveled as they pedaled a stationary bike to extract juice to enjoy with their Shabbat dinner.

When the shofar was blown, the crowd gathered around to hear from three of our local elected officials: Congressman Brad Sherman (an annual attendee), Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of the 45th District, and Bob Blumenfeld, Councilman for the Third District. The officials presented Certificates of Recognition to Carol Koransky, Executive Vice President of Federation and Executive Director of the Valley Alliance, Rabbi Jon Hanish of Kol Tikvah, who is also the Chair of the West Valley Rabbinic Taskforce, and Bill Kaplan, Executive Director of Shalom Institute, whose counselors and staff were visible throughout the event as they ran arts and crafts and helped set up and clean up.

After many of the assembled rabbis and cantors led songs and prayers, the evening concluded with a spirited round of dancing before families headed home. On their way out of the park, everyone seemed to agree — despite the heat, the mood throughout the evening was joyful and truly filled with Shabbat spirit!

Cheryl Green, Valley Alliance Women’s Philanthropy Special Events Chair, exclaimed, “I look forward to summer Shabbat in the Park each year! It is truly an intergenerational event attracting all ages. I am moved when I see rabbis and cantors from so many of our local synagogues singing and praying together — it makes me feel I am part of a bigger Jewish community.”

Until next year — when, hopefully, the weather will be more temperate and all 700+ families who RSVPed will be able to attend!

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