Shabbat Is a Salve, and a Scene

Shabbat Is a Salve, and a Scene

By Mathew Swenson

After pandemic separation and a recent surge in antisemitism, more young people — Jewish and not — seem to be celebrating the sabbath.

Thursday is not technically Shabbat, but on the evening of Nov. 10, more than 100 millennials and members of Gen Z packed into a loft in SoHo to observe it anyway.

The Jewish sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown Saturday, but the host of this event, Susan Korn, designer of the line Susan Alexandra, really wanted Matt Green to preside over the gathering. He spends every Friday at Congregation Beth Elohim in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he is associate rabbi, so Ms. Korn opted to hold the dinner a day early.

“It’s a little weird that it’s not on a Friday,” Rabbi Green said, “but whatever gets people excited about Shabbat works for me.”

Some attendees came dressed for the occasion, which was held at Haven’s Kitchen, a cooking school: One person wore a “Fiddler on the Roof” T-shirt with a skirt and combat boots. Another sported a worn Zabar’s baseball hat. Lindsey Solomon, Ms. Korn’s publicist, who is 30, dug out a kipa he had acquired at a bar mitzvah in middle school.


Chopped liver and brisket were served, and people wished each other a Shabbat Shalom, toasting “l’chaim!” with canned botanical-infused vodka spritzes.

Rabbi Green led the blessings over the candle, wine and challah, and smiled widely at the crowd. “We are all trying to figure out how to be Jews in the 21st century,” he said. “And this is it.”

Across the country, more young people — Jewish and not — seem to be celebrating Shabbat. Some see it as a natural way to unplug — religious Jews typically avoid electronics on the Sabbath, and many nonobservant Jews opt to put their phones away so they can be present — and connect with family and friends.

It’s also an opportunity to support and celebrate Jewish culture after a recent surge in antisemitism. The Anti-Defamation League recorded more episodes of harassment, vandalism or violence toward Jews in 2021 than any year since it started counting in 1979.

“It’s actually been four years since the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting,” Rabbi Green said, referring to the 2018 massacre in which 11 people were killed. “Ever since then people have been holding on tighter to their traditions.”

Recent incidents include antisemitic tweets by Kanye West and the brief suspension of the Brooklyn Nets basketball player Kyrie Irving for tweeting a link to a documentary that denies the Holocaust. Former President Donald J. Trump dined last week with Mr. West and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, which Mr. Trump’s Jewish allies denounced.

Ms. Korn, 36, said she believed that people were more interested in coming together for Shabbat because of recent events. “I think there is a solidarity,” she said. “People want to show that they are proud of being Jewish and they believe in the spirit of Judaism.”

She said she had seen more sales of a Star of David necklace in recent months, even though it’s an older piece and the company did not advertise it. She debuted a new line of Judaica at her Shabbat dinner.

Erin Allweiss, a founder of No. 29 Communications, said she has been reconsidering her Jewish identity. “As we are watching antisemitism come to an uncomfortable rise,” she said, “we need to do more.” And, for her, that includes marking the Sabbath.