Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has announced that ShabbatUK will from now on be held in March rather than October, with the next nationwide celebration to take place in March 2019.
In a letter outlining the decision, Rabbi Mirvis said that the change had been made after receiving feedback from a questionnaire sent out after concerns that the event was too close to the High Holy Days.
“As a result of this consultative process and the detailed replies we received from you, we are now in a position to make an informed decision in the best interests of the UK Jewish community”, he wrote.
“It is clear from your replies, together with the comments of many others who have taken the time to write or speak to me, that staging ShabbatUK just a few weeks after the Chagim [festivals] has proved to be a challenge for many organisers and participants.
“As such, it would seem counterproductive to continue having ShabbatUK at that time. While there is no perfect time, the weight of preference is clearly in favour of ShabbatUK taking place at the beginning of March. With this in mind, I have made a decision that I firmly believe to be the right way forward - the next ShabbatUK will take place on Shabbat 1st/2nd March 2019.”
The Chief Rabbi said the new date “will provide an added amount of lead-in time and give a fresh new feel for what has become such an important fixture in our communal calendar.”
Originating from a concept created in South Africa, for the last four years ShabbatUK has taken place during a weekend in October, with people who would not ordinarily keep the Shabbat encouraged to observe it.
Synagogues and organisations across the country hold hundreds of events, ranging from challah-making sessions before Shabbat comes in to communal Friday night dinners and havdalah concerts on Saturday night to mark the end of Shabbat. Thousands of people take part.