Shabbat Buddies

shabbos buddies

The Shabbos Buddies

SHABBAT WITH A SIDE OF PASTRAMI….. Jewish Journal (excerpt)

As twilight approached on yet another gorgeous Southern California day, a cantor led a service bursting with guitar and dance. The room was packed with daveners, and kids circled a table, the youngest ones carrying Torah scrolls.

While this might be de rigueur at many synagogues on a Friday night, it’s not usually on the menu at local delicatessens’ except at Lenny’s. Since May, the new Lennys Deli, which earlier this year replaced Juniors on Westwood Boulevard, has been hosting Shabbat gatherings.

Billed as Lennys Friday Night Shabbat Room, the restaurant has devoted a rear chamber (something resembling a glass-windowed conference room) to weekly Shabbat services. Rabbi Jerry Cutler leads them once a month, with the rest being conducted by Cantor Estherleon Schwartz

At one such evening on Aug. 2, Schwartz, 72, led a lively service of 30 attendees who prayed while other diners nonchalantly nibbled on their French dip sandwiches and sipped their matzah ball soup. The rest of the restaurant didn’t bat a collective eye as, at one point, younger participants during the service activated flashing rings and blew giant soap bubbles

They are my Shabbat Power Rangers, Schwartz said. Professionally, the goal for Schwartz, a child survivor of the Holocaust, has always been passing along the miracle of her continued existence as a metaphor for Jewish survival.