MA Jewish Life

Connecting to Judaism with ‘Shabbat Under the Sky’

Shabbat Under the Sky

WESTERN MASS. – Rekindle Shabbat, a program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts supported by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and Bill and Lynn Foggle, is teaming up with a consortium of Jewish organizations across the Pioneer Valley to present Shabbat under the Sky—three outdoor picnic events in August celebrating community and the Jewish Sabbath. Participants will meet for singing, performances, and picnicking on Friday, Aug. 3 in two locations—Groff Park in South Amherst and Look Park in Northampton, and Aug. 17 at Green River Swimming & Recreation Area in Greenfield.
Each picnic will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m., rain or shine, and are open to all. Each includes a short, guided musical service to welcome the Sabbath (“Kabbalat Shabbat”). No prior knowledge of Hebrew or Jewish liturgy is needed. Other activities include shofar blowing practice for the upcoming Jewish New Year, puppet shows, storytelling, or a music jam by local musicians. Organizers will provide challah bread, juice, and dessert at all events. Participants should bring their own vegetarian picnic dinner.
Additional details for each program follows:
On Friday, Aug. 3 in Amherst, the event will take place at Groff Park’s picnic shelter from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and will feature story-telling by David Arfa, a brief Shabbat service, and practicing the shofar for the coming new year. Participants should bring their own vegetarian picnic dinner.
On Aug. 3 in Northampton, the event will be held at Look Park’s Westwood Shelter Pavilion and will feature local musicians, a puppet show by Anna Sobel, and a brief Shabbat service. Participants are asked to bring their own vegetarian picnic dinner. Look Park is directly off Route 9 outside downtown Northampton and has a $7 per car entry charge. Come early if you want to enjoy the water park or take a mini-train ride around the park. Travel on the bike path to come into the park for free.
On Friday, Aug. 17 in Greenfield, Shabbat will be celebrated under a picnic pavilion, rain or shine, at the town’s Recreation and Swimming Area on the Green River, located on Nash’s Hill Road near Greenfield Community College. Participants should bring a vegetarian picnic. The event will include a brief service, a puppet show by Anna Sobel, shofar practice and swimming.
“It’s a great opportunity if it’s your first time celebrating Shabbat, or your tenth time, or even if you attend synagogue every week,” said program organizer Dyan Wiley. “We want newcomers to discover how celebrating Shabbat can be a wonderful way to relax after a busy, fast-paced week. This is our fourth year—we’ve drawn babies to grandparents. And we make sure everyone feels welcome.”
For more information, including directions to picnic locations, or to learn how to apply for funding for the coming year, visit
Co-sponsors of Shabbat Under the Sky picnic series include: Beit Ahavah/Florence, Congregation B’nai Israel/Northampton, Gan Keshet Jewish Community Preschool/Northampton, Jewish Community of Amherst, Lander-Grinspoon Academy/Northampton, PJ Library, Temple Israel/Greenfield, and the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts.

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