Family Shabbat-on-Wheels Launched in Odessa Mazel Tov and Beitenu Center
Shabbat-on-Wheels has been a very popular type of activity utilized by Migdal JCC in order to get more unaffiliated members of the community to Jewish Renewal programs, as well as to keep the existing members interested, in a family style manner. The usual way Shabbat-on-Wheels works is when a group of some 50-60 JCC participants leaves the JCC on Friday afternoon, spends entire Shabbat in some facility (usually rented in a resort area of Odessa, even in winter time), then returns to the JCC on Sunday morning. The participants are of all ages, in families, etc.
As long as parents and children from Mazel Tov Center have always been active in such programs, it was decided that their group was too large for a general one, so that they could aready form their own (not rejecting big Shabbaton though either).
So, on October 13 and 14, some 30 Mazel Tov parents with their babies and toddlers went on a trip to a small beach town Sergeevka apart from the rest of Migdal JCC. And many people worried about how it would go, whether anything could be done for two days with a bunch of one, two and three-year-olds on one’s hands. However the experiment turned out to be a success.
Mothers, fathers and their babies and spent that Shabbat and weekend playing games, singing songs, dancing, visiting various classes. The main theme of the trip was Torah’s chapter dedicated to the World Flood and the Babylon Tower. All the babies were amazed by the specially constructed boat with birds and animals on board.
And while the kids were having their day nap the parents were able to attend classes on Jewish traditions and holidays offered by Mazel Tov psychologist Gera Shpatokovskaya.
A children’s play room was equipped in one of the rooms in the cottage where everyone was staying and later on many mothers commented they actually spent entire two days with their children. This was probably one of the main aims of this trip – to provide rest, peacefulness and time for the parents to stay with their children, not being bothered by any outside problems. This aim was reached to its fullest extent.
On Saturday evening everyone enjoyed Havdallah, delicious dinner and awesome funny stories that each was eager to share with the others. At nights parents were not sleepy and they continuously talked and discussed their children’s education, prospects for the future and then gradually got to scary stories transforming themselves into children of the times of pioneer camps. Thus parents also got a unique chance to glance at the world with the eyes of innocent children and this is already a great blessing.
When the time came to say farewell to Sergeevka, each other and rest, no one was looking too much forward to going back home and there were dozens of requests to repeat this event again.
On November 2-4, children and parents from Beitenu program decided to pick up the new initiative of Mazel Tov participants and went out for their own Shabbat-on-Wheels to another place on the sea beach. Some 25 children and their relatives enjoyed Shabbat candle lighting and songs, Havdallah, various serious and funny quizzes, other group activities.