Charm City kicked off the weeklong Baltimore Shabbat Project last Sunday, Nov. 6, at the Owings Mills Jewish Community Center with “Shabbat Through The Senses,” an event geared for families with children ages 10 and under.

More than 200 families of all Jewish backgrounds got a chance to experience a hands-on afternoon filled with the sights, sounds, tastes and scents of Shabbat.

A low-sensory room was made available to make the event accessible to all. Local organizations helped community members make their own “Shabbat kits” throughout the event.

Activities including flour grinding, challah baking and grape juice tasting; decorating challah covers, tablecloths and kiddush cups; rolling beeswax candles and packing spices for Havdalah.

Families made the Shabbat kit items onsite, and then got to take them home to use next Shabbat.

There was also a full schedule of kids’ entertainment throughout the event. Irvine Nature Center brought a box turtle for some hands-on fun.

Jon Jenson, an expert balloon animal maker, had a steady line of eager takers and lots of smiling faces. There was moon bouncing, Tai Chi with Jen Lake of Comprehensive Survival ArtsMartial Arts & Wellness School, letter writing to Israel Defense Forces soldiers, face painting, mitzvah and tzedakah activities, puppets, PJ Library storytime, and Shabbat-themed singalongs with Brian Singer of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.


The Baltimore Shabbat Project is part of the international Shabbos Project, which originated in 2013 in South Africa. The Shabbos Project draws more than 900 cities worldwide to participate in Shabbat-themed events during the course of the same week. It aims to bring Jews of all levels of observance together to experience Shabbat dinner and activities.

Among the groups that sponsored “Shabbat Across the Senses” were Beth Israel Congregation, PJ Library, Beth El Congregation, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the JCC of Greater Baltimore, Beth Tfiloh Synagogue, Friends of the IDF, the Center for Jewish Education, Jewish Volunteer Connection, the Pearlstone Center, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and the Etz Chaim Center for Jewish Living and Learning.

Other Baltimore Shabbat Project events this week will include “The Great Challah Bake: Song, Spirituality & Sisterhood” tomorrow night, Nov. 9, from 6:30-9:30 at the Baltimore Convention Center; the “Great Challah Bake” on Thursday night, Nov. 10, from 7-9 p.m. at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Columbia; and a Havdalah concert by Grammy Award-winning artist Matisyahu on Saturday night, Nov. 12, starting at 7 at Rams Head Live! in downtown Baltimore.

For information about the Baltimore Shabbat Project, visit .

Lisa Shifren is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and photographer.

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