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Shabbat Across America goes virtual

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Shabbat Across America is offering an online option.

The annual synagogue outreach program, which this year is scheduled for March 7, is featuring Shabbat Across America 2.0 (www.shabbatacrossamerica20.org), which allows hosts to create virtual Shabbat tables for real or fictional guests.

Shabbat Across America, which has been sponsored annually since 1997 by the National Jewish Outreach Program, is celebrated in approximately 700 synagogues across North America. It usually involves a Friday night service and festive meal, with an eye toward non-members.

This year’s 2.0 option is reaching out particularly to younger, unaffiliated Jews. Based on the Facebook model, organizers say it is designed to appeal to a generation used to interacting in a global, virtual framework.

As of Feb. 28, several dozen online tables are listed, about evenly split between real and virtual events. Most of the real tables are in the greater New York area, either at individual homes or synagogues. The virtual “tables” have invited guests including Albert Einstein, Emma Lazarus and Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

The site also lists Shabbat resources, including things to do at your Shabbat table ranging from lighting candles to planning good deeds. Hosts are encouraged to list the activities planned for their tables.

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