She’arim/Gateways: Special Programs

Our year is filled with special programs. Whenever a holiday falls on a Thursday, we are afforded the chance to observe that holiday together. This has included Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Lag B’Omer.

Each year we celebrate Thanksgiving together with a program called Thanksgiving Seder, which is held in the home of one of our families during the regular She’arim time slot. In that program, we go through a full seder complete with a festive meal of snack foods that demonstrates the Jewish aspects of the American Thanksgiving holiday.

Our Tu B’Shevat Green Fair is a highlight of the year! Teams of students prepare tables dedicated to particular Green topics such as protecting polar bears from melting sea ice, planting trees to offset air pollution and deforestation, and comparing the merits of locally grown food vs. organic food. On the Shabbat morning closest to Tu B’Shevat, our students teach the whole congregation about their topic. They cover four areas: what is the problem, why is this a Jewish issue, what concrete steps can we take to help, and an interactive piece in which community members can engage in learning on the topic.

Eco-Kashrut: Values Based Eating, Tu B’Shevat Green Fair 2016
Planting Trees to Help Keep the Air Clean, Tu B’Shevat Green Fair 2019
Adopting a polar bear to help save them from the melting ice that is destroying their habitat, Tu B’Shevat Green Fair 2019

Each year on Purim, we film a movie or put on a play. Sometimes we focus on the actual Purim story and sometimes these are Purim Schpiels. For example, the She’arimers break into groups. Each group chooses a theme and then places the Purim story into that theme. Through this we end up with: Purim in outer space, Purim set to the music from “Hamilton,” and Purim in 14th century France!

Click here to watch our wonderful 2019 Purim movie!  Then click here to see the hilarious bloopers!

Just before Passover, we hold She’arim in one of our family’s homes and have a cooking event. One year we made matzah from scratch. Another year we spent time learning about Kosher for Passover ingredients and then our chefs were given several ingredients with the goal of making a wonderful Passover dish in the time we gave them that would be voted Passover Dish of the Year by our panel of judges or Beit Din.

Click here to watch our fabulous 2019 Passover movie – The Great Charoset Showdown!

On Lag B’Omer, we have our annual carnival. This has included a water balloon Jewish trivia game, find and identify the Jewish symbol in a vat of shaving cream while you are blindfolded, a human size board game in which each square was a day of the Omer and contained a Judaic challenge, and more!

Making slime – an example of shmirat ha’nefesh or taking care of the spirit/soul
Annual Jewish trivia water balloon/wet sponge game
Can you sing the Jewish song or prayer with crackers in your mouth?
Can you identify the Jewish symbol hidden in the vat of shaving cream while blindfolded?

Twice each year, we come together for She’arim Fun Nights, which take place during Erev Shabbat (Friday night) services. Ahead of time, we vote on a movie. We begin by joining with the larger community for Shabbat dinner before breaking off as the adults attend the service and we attend to our fun and community building! We watch a movie, make our own desserts (such as Worms in the Mud – chocolate pudding with gummy worms and toppings), and play games. This is a super fun way to build community and experience the release and relaxation that is Shabbat!

We would love to talk about She’arim further with you or even invite you to see us in action! Contact Rabbi Lori Feldstein-Gardner, Education Director at