Shabbat – Our Way In Verona

On October 7th, when the war in Israel started, I began to feel vulnerable as a Jew. I started to consider where in my life I could find support as a Jewish person and where I might need to reconsider my personal safety. I quickly realized that, as a resident in Verona, I didn’t know more than a few Jewish neighbors. That made me feel vulnerable. What if something antisemitic were to happen to my family? Where could I find support in my own town?

I decided to take action. I decided to start a group called the JewCrew of Verona. Through the help of Verona Deputy Mayor Christine McGrath, we envisioned the JewCrew of Verona being a group of Jewish residents and supporters who would help create Jewish-focused events in Verona, to help residents feel more connected.

I also called the concierge service of the Jewish Federation of MetroWest. The concierge service is responsible for helping anyone who needs support around Jewish issues and community concerns. Through the help of Ms. Andrea Bergman and Ms.Sharon Zucker, the JewCrew of Verona was able to organize a Havdalah walk on November 3rd in Verona Park. The Jewish Federation helped publicize the event, provided the spice bags and prayer cards, and worked with the Verona Police Department to get us security. Fifty five residents signed up for this event, where we met and walked around Verona Park. Then we concluded the walk on my driveway by having a Havdalah ceremony. Amongst the participants were those of Jewish faith and various other faiths who wanted to show support for the Jewish people.

Since Verona does not have its own town synagogue, The JewCrew of Verona noticed that the participants at this walk, who are all residents of the town, desired meeting more often with each other and getting support. Even though many of us belong to nearby synagogues, there seemed to be a need for the Jewish residents and those who wanted to support them to meet in town. The Havdalah walk connected us through this time of unprecedented antisemitism and made us feel a little safer. It also really began the conception of the JewCrew Of Verona with an established base of members in the town and surrounding areas.

The JewCrew of Verona decided to follow up this event by having a town Hanukkah party. Traditionally, in Verona, we have a thirty-minute menorah lighting led by Rabbi Tobin from Beth B’nai Shalom. The event includes a performance by the band Midnight Nosh, led by our very own Debra Caplan. However, this year, the JewCrew of Verona also wanted to have a pre-party to give residents and supporters a chance to further connect with each other. The popular town restaurant, Verona American Grill, donated their space and provided food for what turned out to be a festive Hanukkah party attended by eighty people. The restaurant owner, Mr. Harilaos Aspromatis, turned down any payment for the restaurant space stating, “This is not the time to make money off of Jewish people. I just want you all to have a safe space to enjoy Hanukkah.” The Collective Bookstore, a locally owned bookshop, donated free books for our trivia grab bag game. The Jewish Federation of MetroWest donated gifts to all the children. Our own Ms. Lynne Rubin and family performed songs and residents sang along while noshing on various snacks. There was a unity of brother and sisterhood that evening that felt incredible.

But our lives as Jews still feel unsettled. When a small town, like Verona, does not have a central meeting place like a synagogue for its Jewish residents, it is hard to upkeep our ties. Therefore, I decided to use the Shabbat Your Way event at our synagogue as inspiration to do a Shabbat Potluck in Verona event! The Shabbat Potluck event will be in the main ballroom of the town’s community center. The Jewish Federation of MetroWest will be helping with the security detail and providing funds to help with the basic costs of this event. This space can hold up to 75 people. The JewCrew of Verona wants to see it completely filled! This will give us an opportunity to upkeep our traditions as Jews in our own town, connect to supporters and further normalize Jewish activity in this town.

Feeling safe as Jews begins with our community. Shabbat is a ritual intended to bring us together, allow us to rest and recharge in a community setting – because the challenge of living a healthy and productive life as a Jew is becoming more challenging with each passing day as the war in Israel rages on.

Please show your solidarity for the small town of Verona and our bonds with any full Jew, half Jew, JewCurious or supporter of Jews by coming to the Shabbat Potluck in Verona. By coming to this event, filling the seats and normalizing Jewish activity in this town, we are adding to the bonds of brother and sisterhood that keep us healthy and safe.

Please sign up and SHOW UP for Shabbat Potluck in Verona:

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5 thoughts on “Shabbat – Our Way In Verona

  1. Jewish Federation is honored to help Naz bring more Jewish community to Verona. We are all so very lucky!

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