Good Shabbos Nebraska is a radical experiment in Synagogue format. It is an attempt to make services more engaging to Jews who are unfamiliar (or sometimes too familiar) with traditional services without compromising the integrity of our beautiful and meaningful tradition. This is not an easy task, but after months of thought and planning we have come up with something that so far seems to be testing well with the Omaha audience.
Every week on Good Shabbos Nebraska we have new and exciting guests. Our first guest was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Rabbi Shmuley was perfect. He loved the idea of Good Shabbos Nebraska and he really rolled with it.
The show begins with my opening monologue which is a short intro to the parshah. I give over a few parshah bullet points and some quick insights into each point.
The show features a number of different segments. Some are humor and others are educational. The segments are conceived by, written by, and feature Beth Israel kids (with some help from the Rabbi of course).
This week we had a cute sketch by Elinor Dunning and Leora MacNamara that introduced the show and how the audience will participate.
The next segment was a 2 minute segment on prayer by Ilana MacNamara and Zoey Berman - otherwise known as Imac and the Zoester! People from all over the world send them a meaningful line from any where in davening and one sentence as to why that line is meaningful. Imac and the Zoester read two submissions every Shabbos to help people learn from each other and make davening more meaningful. ANYONE can submit a line to Imac and the Zoester by going to www.facebook.com/imacandthezoester.
After Imac and the Zoester, Becca Denninberg came up on to the stage and we told everyone in the audience that this week was a special edition of GSN because it was RABBI'S FAVORITE THINGS - a parody of Oprah's favorite things. While Oprah gives away gold watches and cars, we gave away the new Beth Israel coffee mugs.
The kids were great, the sketches worked and everyone had a great time.
Then we brought out our guest - Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. And Rabbi Shmuley was awesome!!!
We spoke about his new book Fed Up Man of Faith which talks about challenging God in the face of human suffering. It was perfect for Parshat Noach as we examined together the differences between Noach's reaction to a global disaster verses the reaction of Avraham that we will see in a two weeks when he learns that the wicked people of Sodom will be destroyed.
We also spoke about some of Shmuley's other books. He talked about his relationship with Michael Jackson which he recently spoke about on Nancy Grace on CNN.
And of course he spoke about Kosher Sex and his upcoming book Kosher Lust.
Shmuley was absolutely phenomenal. We had a huge crowd and everyone walked away with a new appreciation for Shul. The true test will be how many people show up for Good Shabbos Nebraska Next week. I am optimistic. I think that the first show was a big hit, not only because of Shmuley, but because people want to come to shul. They want to learn Torah. They are looking for a format that speaks to them and I believe that Good Shabbos Nebraska is what people are looking for.
I hope to see everyone in shul again next week for another great episode of Good Shabbos Nebraska.