Jewish holiday of Shavuot to be celebrated on Mercer Island with ‘dairy flair’

by REPORTER STAFF, Mercer Island Reporter Staff 

Thu May 25th, 2017 9:13am

Chabad Mercer Island is hosting an Experience Shavuot Celebration at 6:30 p.m. on May 31 at the Shorewood Heights Club House, according to a press release.

At a unique crossroads between religion and cuisine, the Holiday of Shavuot, celebrating the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai some 3,300 years ago, has become a celebration of fine dairy cuisine as well. Shavuot is celebrated for two days beginning at sundown on May 30.

As the Torah was given, and the laws of kosher dining were first received, the Jewish People were not yet capable of properly preparing beef and poultry and as such ate dairy. The rest is history.

Exquisite cheesecakes, pesto pastas, lasagna, souffles and of course, cheese blintzes all take center stage during this ancient celebration. Some suggest that this has contributed to the renewed popularity this holiday has seen.

When thinking Jewish Holidays, Passover, Chanukah and Yom Kippur come to mind. Nevertheless, Shavuot is considered one of Judaism’s major holidays and was in fact a “pilgrimage” when all of Israel would travel to Jerusalem to celebrate in the Temple.

“No, it isn’t all about the food,” said Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld of Chabad Mercer Island. “What is important is that the community is joining together, hearing the Ten Commandments and celebrating the Torah. But the good food certainly helps.”

Chabad Mercer Island welcomes the community to the annual Experience Shavuot Celebration, “during which we will read the 10 commandments and enjoy an assortment of fine wines and cheeses together with desserts and ice cream for the children,” Kornfeld said.

The Shavuot celebration is free of charge and all are welcome to join, regardless of Jewish affiliation or background.

For more, contact Chabad Mercer Island at 206-851-2324 or visit www.ChabadMercerIsland.org. 


Chabad Mercer Island to host community Passover Seder

by REPORTER STAFF, Mercer Island Reporter Staff 

Fri Mar 24th, 2017 2:40pm

web1_seder-small.jpgFew Jewish holidays evoke the same warm sentiments as Passover. Memories of family and friends gathered as the four cups of wine are poured, the four questions asked and the Matzah served, all contribute to Passover’s popularity in the Jewish community. Bringing the warmth and tradition of this festival to the Mercer Island Community, Chabad Mercer Island is inviting all residents to participate in community Seders to be held on Monday night, April 10, and again on Tuesday night, April 11.

“The Seders take participants through the wondrous liberation of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage, while sharing the relevance and beauty of the age old festival in our modern lives,” according to a Chabad Mercer Island press release.

Included in the Seder will be a delectable catered dinner paired with a variety of fine imported wines and handmade round ‘Shmurah’ Matzah from Israel.

“Passover is not simply a celebration of the historic liberation of an ancient people,” Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld, Director of Chabad Mercer Island, stated in the press release. “Passover is about our own personal liberation – physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

“Passover inspires us to break free from the shackles restraining us from reaching new heights — in our lives, relationships, and connection with G‑d,” he stated.

Chabad’s community seder is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, considered the most influential rabbi in modern history, launched the Shmurah Matzah initiative as part of an effort to create awareness and promote observance of the holiday. An estimated four million hand-baked Shmurah Matzahs will be distributed by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement this year.

This year brings added significance as the world marks 50 years since, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, launched the worldwide Tefillin campaign, a historic undertaking that took Jewish observance to the streets.

All are welcome to join the community seder, regardless of Jewish affiliation or background. Reservations can be made at www.ChabadMercerIsland.org/Seder.



The five-week “Read it in Hebrew” program, a project of Chabad Mercer Island and Island Synagogue, begins March 7. Courtesy photo

Chabad Mercer Island introduces  Hebrew reading crash course

by REPORTER STAFF, Mercer Island Reporter Staff  

Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 10:55am

“Read it in Hebrew,” a new, cutting-edge Hebrew reading crash course, is coming to Mercer Island in March.

The flashcard-based language course, developed by the Jewish Learning Institute, teaches users how to read Hebrew in five weeks. Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld of Chabad Mercer Island will conduct the five sessions of the new course at Island Synagogue from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning March 7.

“Many people feel lost in synagogue, because they don’t know how to read Hebrew,” explains Rabbi Levi Kaplan of JLI’s headquarters in Brooklyn. “We have found that learning how to read Hebrew strengthens one’s feeling of connection to Judaism in a powerful way. ‘Read it in Hebrew’ fills a tremendous need.”

Already a hit with communities around the world, “Read it in Hebrew” has been tried successfully in over 150 Chabad Houses, camps and schools, enabling over 1,000 students to read Hebrew, according to a press release from Chabad Mercer Island.

The first two lessons of “Read it in Hebrew” focus on the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, while the last three lessons introduce vowels and teach students how to read words. With flashcards portraying the letters alongside catchy mnemonics that make the information memorable and easy to digest, “Read it in Hebrew” allows students to absorb information quickly and efficiently.

“Read it in Hebrew” utilizes a timeless teaching method espoused by the Jewish sages for generations. In addition to reading skills, students get a glimpse into the holiness and depth of the Hebrew language, including brief kabbalistic explanations of the Hebrew letters.

“Finally, a fun and easy-to-use program that teaches us how to read in the language of our ancestors,” Kornfeld stated. “If you want to participate in synagogue but find it hard to follow what’s going on, this is for you. Language no longer needs to be a barrier between Jewish people and their heritage.”

“Read it in Hebrew” is designed to appeal to people at all levels of Jewish knowledge, including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. The course is open to the public, and attendees need not be affiliated with a particular synagogue, temple or other house of worship.

Interested students may call 206-851-2324 or visit www.chabadmercerisland.org/riih for registration and for other course-related information.

Chabad Mercer Island offers Jewish education, outreach and social service programming for families and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations. For more information, contact Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld at 206-851-2324, [email protected] or visit ChabadMercerIsland.org. 


web1_menorah-1200x878.jpgChabad Mercer Island will light up two of 15,000 public menorahs worldwide, symbolizing a universal message of religious freedom, on Dec. 24 and Dec. 26. Photo courtesy of Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld

Two 6-foot menorahs to light up Mercer Island, celebrating Chanukah

by REPORTER STAFF, Mercer Island Reporter Staff 

Fri Dec 23rd, 2016 3:39pm

Chabad Mercer Island will ignite one of two public 6-foot menorahs at New Seasons Market, followed by a community-wide celebration on the third night of Chanukah, which falls out on Dec. 26.


Following the menorah lighting ceremony, attendees will sing and eat the night away with yum Chanukah treats and special fun activities for the children, plus an opportunity to get your picture with the Dreidel Man. Additionally, on the first night of Chanukah, Dec. 24, there will be a lighting ceremony at the North end QFC, where the other menorah will be stationed, to kick off the holiday.

The public menorah lighting was organized by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld, Director of Chabad Mercer Island.

“The Menorah serves as a symbol of Mercer Island’s dedication to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all its citizens to worship G‑d freely, openly, and with pride,” he said. “Specifically in America, a nation that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution, the Menorah takes on profound significance, embodying both religious and constitutional principles.”

I want my kids to grow up with pride in their Jewish heritage and a feeling of equality and self-confident as an American. Chabad Lubavitch’s Chanukah Menorahs are arguably one of the most important developments ever to help my child’s education. I wish they had this when I grew up,” said Judy Cohen of Mercer Island, who is looking forward to attending the public menorah lighting.

This year brings added significance as American Jewry marks 75 years since the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, came to America and laid the groundwork for the worldwide Hanukkah campaign that he set into motion in 1973.

Today, the unprecedented public display of Hanukkah has become a staple of Jewish cultural and religious life, forever altering the American practice and awareness of the festival. Mercer Island’s menorahs are part of more than 15,000 large public menorahs sponsored by Chabad in more than 90 countries around the world, including in front of landmarks such as the White House, the Eiffel Tower, and the Kremlin helping children and adults of all walks of life discover and enjoy the holiday message.

Throughout the State of Washington, Chabad will be presenting scores of Chanukah events and celebrations, including public menorah lightings, giant menorahs made out of ice and Legos, Menorah Parades, Latkes parties, Giant Dreidel Houses,“Chanukah Wonderlands” and more.

To find a local event in Washington state or practically anywhere throughout the world, visit  www.ChabadMercerIsland.org/ChanukahEvents. For more information about Chanukah and a local schedule of events visit  ChabadMercerIsland.org/Chanukah

Six-foot menorahs light up Mercer Island

by REPORTER STAFF, Mercer Island Reporter Staff

Dec 7, 2015 at 4:44PM


This year, Chabad Mercer Island will celebrate Chanuka with a public menorah lighting at Mercer Island’s north-end QFC. A 6-foot menorah will be lit during a ceremony on Dec. 10, followed by food, songs and dreidels for all.

The public menorah lighting will take place on the fifth night of Chanuka and is being organized by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld, director of Chabad Mercer Island. Kornfield said the event is open to anyone.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to get together, have a bite to eat, mingle a bit and celebrate the beautiful message of the holiday,” he said.

Kornfield said two 6-foot menorahs were being stationed, with one located nearby each of the Island’s QFC locations. A lighting took place at the south-end shopping center on Sunday, Dec. 6, in what Kornfield called more of a “low-key” ceremony. Both menorahs will remain throughout the eight days of Chanukah.

Islander Judy Roberts-Cohen said she is looking forward to attending Thursday’s public menorah lighting.

“I want my family to grow up with pride in their Jewish heritage and a feeling of equality and self-confidence as an American,” she said. “Chabad-Lubavitch’s Chanukah Menorahs are arguably one of the most important developments ever to help my family’s education. I wish they had this when I grew up.”

This year’s Chanukah celebrations bring added significance, as Jewish communities worldwide celebrate the year of Hakhel, a once-every-seven-years opportunity to celebrate Jewish unity and learning. Throughout the year, Jewish synagogues and organizations are hosting communal gatherings for men, women and children dedicated to encouraging Jewish observance.

For more information about Chanukah and a local schedule of events, visit ChabadMercerIsland.org/Chanukah or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/119869631713403/.


Rabbi Pedals trappings of Sukkot


Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld and his pedi-sukkah, a mobile hut for the Jewish holiday, the festival of Sukkot, is seen in Mercer Island. Sukkot is a fallholiday that this year began Sept. 27 and ends Oct. 5. Kornfeld says, “The holiday is celebrated by eating in a sukkah, a temporary structure covered with vegetation or bamboo.” Kornfeld is director of Chabad Mercer Island. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)


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Once in the hut, people are handed a date palm branch, citrus fruit, myrtle and willow. Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld says the meaning is “we are completely incomplete without each other.” (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)




Pedi-Sukkah on Island streets



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Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld of Chabad Mercer Island rode a “Pedi-Sukkah” to celebrate Sukkot. — Image Credit: Contributed Photo

Oct 16, 2015 at 9:00AM


The Jewish holiday of Sukkot, a seven-day biblically mandated holiday that began this year on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27, got a boost as Rabbi Nissan Kornfeld of Chabad Mercer Island took to the road via a “Pedi-Sukkah.”

A “Pedi-Sukkah,” a modified pedi-cab, is a three-wheeled cycle with a sukkah — a hut-like structure covered with bamboo — attached in the back.

The sukkah is a temporary structure covered by vegetation or bamboo that requires a space open to the skies, commemorating the time the Jews wandered in the desert wilderness and the miraculous clouds that surrounded them. In the sukkah, it is customary to shake the lulav and the etrog, and have a bite to eat.

“The idea is to make the mitzvah of sukkah as accessible as possible,” Kornfeld said. “Throughout the holiday, we’ll be out and about, doing our utmost to pedal awareness about the Sukkot holiday.”

The “Pedi-Sukkah” spent time around the Mercer Island town center where people may not have had access to a holiday booth. A light snack was available in the sukkah at all times adding to the enjoyment of the holiday.

This year’s observances bring added significance as Jewish communities worldwide celebrate the year of Hakhel, a time to promote Jewish unity and learning. Throughout the year, Jewish synagogues and organizations will host communal gatherings for men, women and children dedicated to encouraging the observance and study of Torah.

There are dozens of such “Pedi-Sukkahs” around the world, in Canada, Denmark, England, Holland, France, Australia and in 14 states across America.