Temple Israel is excited to begin what hopefully will become a new Shabbat tradition: First Fridays at Temple Israel.

Beginning on the first Friday in September, Temple Israel will host a Shabbat service and dinner geared toward families and the younger members of the congregation. The service will be full of music and songs, followed by dinner and schmoozing.

“The evening will be about being in community, being here [at Temple Israel],” said Rabbi Josh Brown. “It’ll be a little more casual and [family]-friendly.”

The evening will begin in the lobby, with the blessing over the candles at 6 p.m. Congregants will be asked to participate in the lighting of the candles, after which the Shabbat service will be held in the sanctuary. Temple Israel’s youngest will have a Tot Shabbat service of their own to attend, in the Livingston Chapel.

Tot Shabbat will be open to children up for first grade and will also feature music and songs suitable for their ages. Carrie Fingold will be leading the first Tot Shabbat service. She’s planning a fun, interactive 20 minute service with a brief bible story and familiar songs and blessings. Fingold wants children to enjoy their time at Temple Israel.

“[My children] like being here,” Fingold said. “When we say we’re going to Tot Shabbat, my kids get really excited.”

While the adult service in the sanctuary is expected to last 45 minutes, the Tot Shabbat service will end a little earlier so the children can start eating sooner. When Tot Shabbat is over, the children will be led to the Milder Center, where there will be a separate, family-friendly menu waiting for them. Once the main Shabbat service is over, parents will have the option of eating in the social hall or taking their plates to the Milder Center to enjoy dinner with their children.

“We’re just looking for this community to be here on this night, so that people can enjoy having their family and their kids here at Temple,” Rabbi Brown said.

After dinner, Temple Israel will have babysitters on hand in the Milder Center, so the adults can relax and socialize without having to worry about where their children are or what they’re getting into.

“My hope is people come for dinner and stay and spend time with each other,” Rabbi Brown said.

While First Fridays will be monthly, Tot Shabbat will be held five times throughout the year on Friday nights.

The initial First Friday dinner will be free, with future dinners sponsored by different congregants who will act as greeters before and after services.

Be sure to check out the calendar on the Temple Israel website for future First Friday and Tot Shabbat dates. Email RSVP@templeisraelomaha.com to save your place at the table.

For additional information or if you have any questions, please contact Program Director Wendy Goldberg at wgoldberg@templeisraelomaha.com.