More than 4,500 people gathered for Hallelu Atlanta, a celebration of Jewish spirit and community. Organized by Synagogue 3000, a national institute for congregational leadership and synagogue studies, Tuesday’s one-day event culminated a yearlong series of outreach workshops held at 21 Atlanta-area synagogues.
Cantor Alberto Mizrahi opened Tuesday’s program with a Sephardic version of â€œLecha Dodi,â€ followed by sing-along performances by Theodore Bikel, Joshua Nelson, Mare Winningham, Neshama Carlebach, Debbie Friedman and Craig Taubman. Most of the synagogues bought blocks of seats in the theater, so their members could feel the spiritual power of coming together for the sole purpose of celebrating the joy of being Jewish, said Synagogue 3000â€™s president, Ron Wolfson. â€œIn our study of the evangelical mega churches, we have observed the power of large-scale gatherings,â€ said Wolfson, who is investigating how the outreach success of these churches may be duplicated in the Jewish community. â€œOur congregations rarely have more than several hundred people at a service except, of course, on the High Holy Days. Even then we hardly ever sit together in one â€˜tent,â€™ experiencing the thrill of feeling part of a larger community of communities.â€ Hallelu Atlanta was the second such event organized by Synagogue 3000, following a similar mass event in late 2001 in Los Angeles.