Havdalah Ceremony Part of Initiative To Create Programs for the 7th of Each Month


More than 100 people have already registered to attend a communal Havdalah ceremony at The Gordon Center on Jan. 6, 90 days after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

The event, dubbed “The Braided Candle,” will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. and is free to attend with online registration. There will be songs, words of inspiration and light kosher refreshments. This event, an expression of unity, is the culmination of the work of more than 70 community members, numerous professionals with The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, a local Jewish band and a trip to Israel.

Linda Elman
Linda Elman (Courtesy of Elman)

Two of the event’s organizers, Linda S. Elman, the chair of the Jewish Life lead team for The Associated, and Linda A. Hurwitz, co-chair of the Initiative for Strengthening Jewish Unity and past chair of the board of The Associated, shared that this communal Havdalah is part of a larger new initiative by The Associated to facilitate community programming on the 7th or near the 7th of each month.

The symbolism of the braided candle is integral to the event, according to Hurwitz.

“The braided candle is a symbol where everyone is intertwined and every action, every individual’s action, has ramifications for the others.” Hurwitz said. “Every Jew has to take care of, protect and pray for every other Jew.”

The braids are coming together from all over Baltimore’s Jewish community.

Linda A. Hurwitz
Linda A. Hurwitz (Courtesy of Hurwitz)

Rabbi Shmuel Silber of Suburban Orthodox Congregation in Pikesville will lead attendees in words of inspiration at the event. Sara Shalva, the chief arts officer of the JCC of Greater Baltimore, will also be speaking at the event.

“I’m hoping that every Jew feels comfortable and connected to every other Jew every day, but in particular, on the 7th of every month,” Hurwitz said.

Local musician Zevi Daniel and two other members of the band, Acoustic Soul, will be performing at the event. Daniel is a vocalist, percussionist and cantor.

“I’m hoping to see the looks in people’s eyes, the connection there,” Daniel said. “I think that we really are one big family, and this is going to be a really nice cross section of Judaism throughout Baltimore.”

Daniel, who is also a member of Suburban Orthodox Congregation, is particularly looking forward to using music to connect people through song.

The group will be singing “Hatikvah,” “Am Yisrael Chai” and eight other songs.

“It’s going to be a Havdalah experience for everybody,” Elman said. “Two to three years from now, we want to look back at this time and say what we did as a community in response to Oct. 7. How are we a better community? How did this affect us?”

The significance of the event series taking place on the seventh of each month is two-fold. The number seven is important in Jewish tradition, and in the wake of the attacks, Elman shared that people were feeling as though the number seven had been taken away from the Jewish people.

“They tried to tear us apart, they tried to destroy us, and we come together and we come back together even stronger,” Elman said.

On Oct. 23, Hurwitz visited Israel and saw what she called “the beauty of Judaism.”

“I saw every Jew helping every Jew. I couldn’t get over how the civilians were stepping up and doing whatever was needed for one another,” Hurwitz said.

When Hurwitz returned from Israel, she went to The Associated with a fresh perspective that she was able to put into community programming.

“She came to us, and she said, ‘We have to do something, we are not the same people we were before Oct. 7.’ People are looking for meaning, they are looking for opportunities to be together to create Jewish unity,” Elman said.

They quickly put together a community conversation in November, just ahead of Thanksgiving, where 70 community members came to brainstorm ways to meet the Jewish community’s needs. According to Elman, the event was a wild success.

“Lots of fabulous ideas came out of that evening, and one of the ideas was to try to get together around the 7th of each month and do something meaningful and purposeful together,” Elman said.

Going forward, Elman said that The Associated is going to partner with local agencies and synagogues to continue this initiative.

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