B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany announces the launch of its new “Tot Shabbat” program offering families with young children the opportunity to welcome the Jewish Sabbath with child-friendly songs, prayers and stories.
Starting June 8, Tot Shabbat at B’nai Sholom will be held the second Friday of every month from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. The first half hour will feature an informal reception time, with kid-favorite food and an opportunity for all to socialize. The service with songs, prayers and stories will begin at 5:30 p.m. Rabbi Donald P. Cashman will lead most of the Tot Shabbat services, with assistance from congregants and lay leaders.
B’nai Sholom is located at 420 Whitehall Road, Albany.
Each program will feature a story read from a “PJ Library” book. A program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the PJ Library sends thousands of books free to Jewish children in the U.S. and Canada each month. Interested Jewish families simply sign up to receive an age-appropriate book every month for each child between 6 months and 8 years of age. In the Capital Region, PJ Library partners with and is run by the United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York.
“B’nai Sholom has always been a kid-friendly congregation, which is what attracted many of us to the synagogue in the first place,” said congregation President Libby Liebschutz. “We’re very excited about the prospect of having more young children in our synagogue and our role in exposing them to the joy and richness of Jewish life.”
A new dues structure put in place by B’nai Sholom earlier this year is expected to help draw more young families to the congregation. The congregation has reduced its dues significantly for younger and first-time members. Families and individuals age 35 and under may join for free. Beginning at age 36, a member’s dues obligation will increase 20 percent each year until the congregant owes the full dues amount at age 40. Membership for new congregants of any age is free for the first year.
“As we envision an increase in the number of young families at B’nai Sholom, we are making sure that we have the robust programming to serve their needs, however their families are structured, including interfaith, same-sex, single parent or grandparent-led households, among others,” Liebschutz said.