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Rabbi Stiefel's Monthly Article

Come to Shabbat Night Out and Live Longer!

 

There’s an old joke: When is medicine first mentioned in the Bible? When God gave Moses two tablets.

 

I was reminded of that prescription recently while thumbing through a magazine.  An article reporting that individuals who attended religious services live longer caught my attention. It’s a variation of “take two prayers and call me in the morning.”

 

While I think attending services on a regular basis has merit in itself, rabbis have their ways to encourage individuals to attend frequently. While I won’t go so far as to give gift cards to the first ten who arrive, (despite the mitzvah of making the minyan -- ten Jews needed for saying certain prayers!), I know even without citing scientific studies that regular religious participation enriches lives.

 

The studies claiming that people who attend worship regularly live longer lives always raise questions: Is it due to the prayers, the spiritual and transcendent connection? Or is it because those who attend are able-bodied enough to get through the door and have an incentive to stay in shape so they can come back regularly? Could it be the social connections made so that when a regular attendee is absent, there are folks who notice and follow up?

 

Harry R. Moody, Ph.D., a gerontologist and former Director of the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College in New York City says, "The message isn't 'Go back to church (sic) and you'll live a long time,' but stay connected with people on your own wavelength." I resonate with Moody’s comments because I recognize that not everyone joins Mayim Rabim to attend services. But I would venture to say almost every member feels a connection to the community.

 

One of the most popular programs that Mayim Rabim offers is “Shabbat Night Out.” Originally a once-a-year event, due to overwhelming response, we have expanded it to two times a year. Mayim Rabim members open their homes to other congregants and friends for potluck Shabbat dinners. While our monthly potluck dinners after Friday night services are lovely, the Shabbat Night Out experiences allows individuals to linger in a more relaxed way after the table prayers are sung.

 

Our next Shabbat Night Out is Friday, June 1. Please email isaackaufman1971@gmail.com by Wednesday, May 23, if you would like to attend.

 

In addition to the health benefits, you’ll be glad to be sitting around a table with others celebrating Shabbat.