Center City Gears Up for Pluralistic Night of Learning

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Shavuot events in Philadelphia this year are drawing on collaborative efforts between synagogues, and across denominations.

In 2013, Josh Rosenberg decided to organize a collaborative Shavuot event in Center City Philadelphia for two reasons:

“One, because I really like Shavuot and what better way to celebrate it than to stay up all night learning?” said Rosenberg, a 34-year-old IT manager living in the Graduate Hospital area of Philadelphia. “And two, because I wanted to increase pluralism and cooperation in the city.”


That original grassroots effort two years ago, which saw seven synagogues and Jewish groups bring together about 100 people for an all-night Shavuot learning session, is ramping up this year into an official Jewish Night of Learning at the Gershman Y. Run by the Center City Kehillah, it involves at least 17 congregations and organizations and a hoped-for attendance of more than 150.

The event, which begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday night and concludes at 8 a.m. the following morning, will include study sessions run by representatives of an array of Center City synagogues, from the Orthodox Mekor Habracha to Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir~Heart of the City, a Reconstructionist congregation.

“We really have the range of organizations that represent the diversity of Center City Jewish life; all participating, all sending teachers, all leading services,” Miriam Steinberg-Egeth, coordinator of the Center City Kehillah, said, noting that the event will feature four different evening prayer service options, including a meditation service. “To have that kind of diversity is really exciting.”

There is now a website, phillyshavuot. com, dedicated solely to the upcoming evening.

Jewish Night of Learning is being funded by and in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, through its efforts to support neighborhood programs like the Center City Kehillah.

“It’s a way for Federation to really demonstrate that we care about what’s happening out in the community,” said Barbara Hirsh, director of the Federation’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning. “It creates a pipeline so that we’re in communication with people at the most local level.”

In other collaborative Shavuot events happening in the region, a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot is taking place at the Perelman Jewish Day School’s Forman Center on the Mandell Educational Campus in Melrose Park. Five synagogues along the Old York Road Corridor  are joining together for this event, which begins at 7 p.m. and runs all night, featuring Torah study, yoga and a 4 a.m. basketball game.

Elsewhere in the area, Germantown Jewish Centre in Mount Airy will play host to three neighboring synagogues and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College for “an evening of prayer, study, schmoozing and noshing,” that kicks off at 8:30 p.m. and concludes at midnight.

There are also numerous Shavuot evening happenings going on around the city at individual synagogues. For a listing, check out the community calendar or check with your local synagogue.

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