Courtesy of Adath Israel. Photo credit: Laura Kinney-Porter

Submitted by Adath Israel Congregation 

When Adath Israel first agreed to be part of the new Friday Night Shabbat program around Cincinnati, they thought it could be a nice way to bring families back into the shul on Friday nights. “It was also a great opportunity to meet some new families who might be interested in Friday evening programming,” said Rachel Brown, Director of Education and Youth & Family Programming at Adath Israel. What started as a mid-size program of about forty people quickly became a much larger program drawing in sixty, seventy, and finally over one hundred people. Rachel credits this dramatic increase in attendance to Adath’s continual efforts to increase engagement, providing (by popular demand) Friday afternoon and evening programming for families.

Family Friday (Adath Israel’s monthly Friday Night Shabbat) is structured to provide something for everyone. Families can bring kids for a snack and to play in one of the indoor playrooms or on the playground, and adults are free to schmooze and enjoy happy hour in a casual, come-as-you-are atmosphere. After the drop-in social time, Rabbi Smolkin leads a short, family-friendly program about Shabbat and other holidays. January’s Family Friday featured Camp Livingston and their therapy dog, Tweed, who led this part of the evening. The night always ends with a catered free Shabbat dinner and, inevitably, more high-energy playtime for the kids in Adath’s Lerner Fisher Hall.

“It has been a wonderful experience to welcome so many families back to Adath Israel after the pandemic, and to see the many new families who have attended for the first time due to the tireless support of Jeff Zipkin and Shelly Gerson, who spearheaded fridaynightshabba dot com,” Rachel continued. “We have Jeff and Shelly to thank for the idea of Family Friday, as well as Rabbi Smolkin, Programming Assistant Samantha Rose, and the many Adath Israel Religious School teachers who have provided such a warm welcome to our families and made Family Fridays such a success.” Adath’s final Family Friday of the year will be on April 21, and will feature a special program for the Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade students- Kabbalat HaTorah (formerly Consecration).  To RSVP for the April 21 Family Friday, visit Adath Israel’s website.