Wednesday, June 18, 2014


     Girls in miniskirts and high heels; rabbis in black hats and white Shirts; the revelry of the Gay Pride parade in the background - this is Friday night in Tel Aviv and a Shabbat for the record books.
     Exactly 2,226 people gathered at Hangar 11 at the Tel Aviv Port to participate in the record making largest Shabbat meal ever, organized by White City Shabbat, the Tel Aviv-based NGO that organizes public shabbat meals once a month at the Goren Synagogue on Modigliani Street, as well as other events geared toward the English-speaking and olim community that include holiday learning classes, chalah baking classes, and religious lectures. Sponsors of the Guinness event include the Tel Aviv Municipality.
     White City Shabbat is as popular for its monthly Shabbats as Tel Aviv is notorious for secularism.  “One of the reasons we started White City Shabbat is because Shabbat doesn’t need to be in the domain of the religious,” co-founder Deborah Danan said at the start of the event. “For those that don’t have family here, White City has become an alternate family.”
     For the Guinness world record event, it took three months of preparation, 60 days of crowdsource fundraising and the culmination is 600 bottles of wine from sponsor Golan Heights Winery, 74 bottles of vodka, 1,800 pieces of chicken,  1,000 pieces of meat, 250 vegetarian options, and 2,000 people signed up, with hundreds more having signed up for a waitlist. Notable attendees are Alan Dershowitz, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren.

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