Outreach has gotten creative at Atlanta’s oldest Orthodox synagogue.
Saturday morning, Dec. 5, marked the premiere of “Good Shabbos, Atlanta!” at Congregation Anshi S’fard in Morningside/Virginia-Highland. According to Anshi’s website, “Good Shabbos, Atlanta!” is “a new and exciting game show” in which contestants are chosen from the Shabbat service audience to answer questions on topics ranging from the weekly Torah portion and upcoming holidays to Jewish-American history and facts about Israel.
The winner receives a prize valued at $50. There is even a consolation prize, so no contestant leaves empty-handed.
Although services begin at 9:30 a.m., the game show starts around 10:45 and lasts approximately an hour. Community members may attend either or both portions of the Shabbat morning celebration.
Because of the coming New Year’s holiday, “Good Shabbos, Atlanta” will return Jan. 9, but it will run on the first Shabbat morning of every month from February forward.
Having arrived from Phoenix in August, Rabbi Mayer Freedman and his wife, Shani, are casting a welcoming net from their long-established neighborhood synagogue. The rabbi said, “Everyone is welcome, and everyone fits in.”
Rabbi Freedman sported a special “Good Shabbos, Atlanta!” necktie and watch for the game show’s debut, which was held after a few test runs of the idea. His matching cuff links have yet to arrive.
After all joined in to sing the theme song, “Am Yisrael Chai,” Rabbi Freedman explained the scoring system and the rules for the game, including the availability of five lifelines: poll the audience (twice); ask a predesignated person (twice); and use a Chumash (once).
Numbers were handed out to all interested in playing, and Rabbi Freedman spun the number wheel to select the two participants. Categories for the premiere were the week’s Torah portion, Vayeshev; facts about Chanukah; and Chanukah observances or traditions.
Questions ranged from doable to challenging and included: In his dream in this week’s Torah portion, how many sheaves of corn bowed down to Joseph? In Israel, what letter is added to the dreidel? Who is the father of the Maccabees?
On more than one occasion the “Jeopardy!” theme song was hummed while a contestant deliberated. Audience members had to resist the urge to help the player if they knew the answer. The competition was tight, and in the end the point leader won a gift certificate to Chai Peking, while No. 2 received a coveted, limited-edition “Good Shabbos, Atlanta!” coffee mug.
The congregants were warm and welcoming for the intimate gathering. The show was fun and thoughtfully orchestrated, and all who attended, from age 17 months on up, had a good time and a good Shabbos.
Anyone who attends services or the show at Anshi S’fard, 1324 N. Highland Ave., is invited to stay for the Kiddush luncheon that follows. What do you have to lose?