On Friday, Nov. 18, Temple Torat Yisrael will again open its doors for dinner and worship to all Jewish Rhode Island families with a child under the age of 10.
Since 2015, Torat Yisrael, in East Greenwich, has offered a monthly TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) service so children can experience and learn about Shabbat and upcoming Jewish holidays. The kid-centered worship service – filled with song, musical instruments, and often some element of dress-up – begins at 5:30 p.m. and concludes around 6.
Everyone attending the service is welcome to stay for a free community dinner. All the food is prepared in TTY’s state-of-the-art Kosher kitchen and the meal begins with challah and wine/juice blessings.
Valerie Philmus, the wife of Rabbi Aaron Philmus and a trained chef, says, “We wanted to make the TGIF service early enough for younger children, and offer a kid-friendly dinner to make it easier on the parents, so they can socialize.”
The socializing usually lasts until 7 p.m., with parents chatting and the children playing together, often in TTY’s library, which features Jewish-themed books and toys.
Rabbi Philmus says having a service especially for children, even very young ones, fosters a sense of Jewish community in the next generation, as well as offering opportunities for leadership and new friendships.
TGIF events are also scheduled for Dec. 16, Jan. 20, and Feb. 17. In addition to Kosher food, gluten-free and nut-free dinner options are available upon request. Donations are accepted and families can choose to sponsor a TGIF dinner (often to celebrate a child’s birthday). For more information, go to http://www.toratyisrael.org/calendar.html.
HILARY LEVEY FRIEDMAN is a professor of American Studies at Brown University and a member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Torat Yisrael.