For Temple Beth Israel, the special Shabbat service will be a time of love.

The theme of the service, at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 at the temple, 2090 Hollywood Drive in York Township, is "Songs of Love Shabbat." It will feature the temple's youth and adult choirs, said Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan, the temple's spiritual leader.

"We don't (observe) Valentine's Day, but we can't ignore what happens in the world," he said. "We'll highlight the liturgy that speaks to the Jewish people's love for God and God's love for humanity."

Shabbat details: The service is part of a new Shabbat initiative in which the temple holds special-themed services at 7 p.m. on the second Fridays of the month to attract families and attendees who like to attend Shabbat earlier than the usual 7:30 p.m. start time.

The special services last about 45 minutes, while the typical Shabbat service on other Fridays is about an hour long, Astrachan said.

Shabbat is held on the Sabbath day, which runs from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

"The service is liturgical and musical, a celebration of the connection we share with God," Astrachan said. "It's a reminder that we're serving as partners with God, and we remember our commitment to the people who share our planet."

The initial second Friday Shabbat was held Jan. 10, when the service featured a presentation from York City's Northeast Neighborhood Association. The temple collected items for the association food pantry, Astrachan said.


March Shabbat: The second Friday Shabbat at 7 p.m. March 14 will feature guest speaker Nancy Baron-Baer, associate regional director of the Anti-Defamation League office in Philadelphia.

Her speech title is "Anti-Semitism across the globe and in our backyard," according to Astrachan.

Baron-Baer's message will be perfect timing as the temple prepares to observe Purim, a celebration of a victory over anti-Semitism as told in the Bible, the rabbi said.

Purim also: At 7 p.m. Saturday, March 15, the temple will celebrate Purim, which commemorates the actions of Queen Esther, a Jewish woman who persuaded her husband, Persian King Ahasuerus, to stop his advisor Haman from going through with plans to destroy the Jews.

This year, the temple's youth will present a contemporary version of the Purim story. Event attendees will dress up in costumes related to the story, Astrachan said.

"People try to guess what my costume will be," he said. "They won't know until I show up."

—Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at