A huge brown van led a convoy through the winding roads of Israel’s northern border with Lebanon this past Friday, its speakers blasting music through open windows, puncuated by the periodic shouts of the van’s driver, Eliahu Galil.
Galil is the Yachad Program‘s Jewish Cultural Coordinator in Maaleh Yosef – a collection of 22 communities in the upper Galilee, and the convoy – or as he calls it, the “Mobile Kabbalat Shabbat Procession” – is one of his answers to the corona-induced isolation preventing communal gatherings.
“We’re not going to let Corona win!” said the flier advertising the unique Kabbalat Shabbat program. “We’re going to lift morale and come together as a community to welcome the Shabbat.”
The flier contained the convoy’s carefully planned schedule, enabling residents to time when to come out of their homes to wave from their front yards and porches, and the procession drove slowly enough for people to sing along, dance in the streets and even break out their own instruments to accompany the music — all the while maintaining the Ministry of Health’s 2-meter separation between one another.
After six hours of driving, the event culminated in a more “traditional” Kabbalat Shabbat event with traditional songs and stories, livestreamed via Facebook from Galil’s backyard.
“This was such a welcome initiative to break the isolation we are all feeling,” said Sarah Bechar of the Even Menachem community. “What a wonderful way to welcome the Shabbat as a community, even when we are apart.”