Friday In the Park with YAD
Guest post by Michelle Jacobson, JEWISHcolorado Young Adult Division (YAD) Manager
YAD Shabbat is back. In real life and better than ever.
The program came roaring back, smokin’ hot, with a kosher BBQ in Creekside Park and eighty people in attendance on a perfect Denver evening. With nary a cloud in sight and the temperature just right, the event was, in the words of several in attendance, “just magical.”
YAD has hosted a multitude of successful virtual events during the pandemic, and there’s no question that they have helped young—and youngish—people (YAD serves ages 21–45) feel connected to community. For those living alone in particular, including many in their 20s and 30s, the YAD events have been a lifeline. But a Zoom Shabbat, or Network & Nosh, or Ambassador gathering, is still… a Zoom event, and as many feels as those who logon to them feel, it’s just not the same. There’s a special, well… magic that happens when we gather in-person. The joy of an IRL smile is magnified by the fact that it is in real life. We feed off of each other’s excitement, and that excitement is intensified by the fact that it’s been so long since we’ve been able to gather together.
At the YAD Shabbat in Creekside Park, I was able to talk to people whom I had only ever talked to online; I got to mix and mingle and catch up with the lay leaders with whom I’ve worked throughout the pandemic and welcome recent Denver transplants who are new to the community.
Every minute of the evening was special, but for me, the highlight was the Shehecheyanu, the prayer recited on special occasions. And that is really what the first-since-the-pandemic, in-person YAD Shabbat and BBQ was: an extra-special celebration that I and everyone in attendance are grateful for. The prayer rang out into the night, sent skyward by a chorus of voices and filled with gratitude: that we had our health, that we could gather together, and that we were part of this beautiful, magical community.