2016-03-02 / Voice at the Shore

YI Shabbaton with Traveling Chassidim warms up cold winter weekend

By LORI SAMLIN MILLER For the Voice


Moshe Sobel holds the Havdalah candle as members of The Traveling Chassidim lead a musical Havdalah ceremony during a recent Shabbaton at Young Israel of Margate. Moshe Sobel holds the Havdalah candle as members of The Traveling Chassidim lead a musical Havdalah ceremony during a recent Shabbaton at Young Israel of Margate. On a bitter cold weekend last month, The Traveling Chassidim brought their customary warmth and special Chassidic flavor to the Shabbat celebration at Young Israel of Margate, helping all in attendance forget the frigid temperatures and bitter winds that raged outside.

Young Israel’s Rabbi Yaacov Orimland and his wife, Suey Orimland, were thrilled to share a Shabbaton weekend singing and dancing with more than sixty people—young and old— from throughout the Delaware Valley. “In the winter, we usually just get a few local people. This Shabbos people came from all over—Cherry Hill, Philly, Lakewood and New York!” said the rabbi.

The crowd was also diverse. “You had Chassidim, Modern Orthodox and non-observant Jews, and everyone felt like they belonged. My philosophy is that a Jew is a Jew. I try to make everyone feel like they belong, and they did! No one looked down on anyone else. It was a fabulous feeling.”


Herb Bierig (center) wears the “Shtreimel,” a classic Chassidic hat, surrounded by Travelling Chassidim members Ami Kohn (left) and Aryeh Royde (right). Herb Bierig (center) wears the “Shtreimel,” a classic Chassidic hat, surrounded by Travelling Chassidim members Ami Kohn (left) and Aryeh Royde (right). The Traveling Chassidim, who are based in Monsey, NY, travel around the country, often bringing along their own families, as they did in Margate. Their mission is to imbue a community’s Shabbat observance with increased liveliness and enjoyment.

“They are unbelievable,” said Rabbi Orimland. “There are 53 families in the group, so they can go to more than one place in a weekend. They have been here before so we have a relationship with them.”

The ruach and music of the Traveling Chassidim infused Young Israel’s Shabbat service with added warmth. The melodic and high-spirited Carlebach and Chassidic tunes inspired the diverse crowd to break out into spontaneous dancing and singing during the Friday night service. Later, a delectable fourcourse Shabbat dinner was served, with more singing and conversation. “No one wanted to leave,” noted the rabbi. “We started the meal at 6:45 and at 10:30 people were still sitting and mingling and just didn’t want to leave!”

Shabbat morning services were again both lively and deeply meaningful. Rabbi Orimland’s moving sermon about the importance of reaching out to connect with and care about others underscored the feeling everyone in Young Israel was experiencing during Shabbat—that all Jews are family. The diverse group of Jews in attendance then sat down together to a delectable full course Shabbat lunch, while listening to music that harkened back to the shtetls where many of their families had once lived.

The Shabbaton ended on Saturday evening with a lavish Melava Malkah (a musical Havdalah service) followed by a lively and spirited concert. Divisions between the diverse Shabbaton attendees disappeared as Jews wearing streimels, knitted kippahs, black hats, no hats, caps, and velvet kippahs danced and sang together, embracing one another as one family.

“Despite the cold, at 10:30 p.m. after havdalah, you had 45 people standing outside talking to the Traveling Chassidim. People didn’t want to leave!” said Rabbi Orimland. “We have booked the Traveling Chassidim for the summer but we’re not sure what weekend yet,” he added. .

Lori Samlin Miller is a South Jersey-based freelance writer, mother and former teacher who blogs about kosher food and does clowning in hospitals.

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