Leading with Light – A Moving Shabbat at LifeTown

The feeling at LifeTown is one of comfort and belonging – no matter who you are. The June 28th Fabulous Friday Night was no exception. As guests stepped through the doors, they were greeted with gorgeous tables boasting golden brown challah, delicious salads, and vibrant sunflower centerpieces. There was an undercurrent of warmth and acceptance running through the space as friends greeted one another and embraced all those new to the organization.

On this special night, Friendship Circle hosted famed Israeli media personality and lecturer Sivan Rahav-Meir and Tomer Meir, a survivor of the Nova Festival attacks. Rahav-Meir works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Rahav-Meir was highly impressed with LifeTown’s facilities. “It’s amazing and mind blowing,” she said of the space and programming. “It’s so creative and revolutionary.”

The night began with a community lighting of Shabbat candles. All two hundred and fifty guests enjoyed the service while buzzing about the guest speakers. After a beautiful Shabbat dinner, Rahav-Meir took the spotlight and spoke with Tomer Meir.

Rahav-Meir and her husband, Yedidya Meir, were lecturing in the U.S. in the lead-up to the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. The evening was dedicated to the Rebbe’s memory and his inspiration, which led to the creation of Friendship Circle and LifeTown.

A rapt crowd listened as Rahav-Meir introduced Tomer. “You are not a survivor,” she said. “You are a hero.” Tomer himself was not comfortable with the hero label, instead praising the way the community has lifted him and fellow survivors up after October 7th. “The day after,” he said. “I understood the power of the Jewish community.”

The audience fervently applauded not only his bravery but his willingness to be the voice of those who can no longer speak. “We are one family,” Rahav-Meir said to all the attendees.

After listening to the speeches, Beth Nydick of Livingston said, “I thought it was really important to come listen and be a part of the community.”

Rahav-Meir hopes the crowd took away a message of light. “The secret is, how do you empower?” she asked. “How do you get to a better situation out of the crisis. How do you use darkness in order to produce light? I think you’re doing it here in this building in an incredible way and we should learn from it.”

The event was also held in loving memory of one of the organization’s cherished volunteers, Barbara Zinbarg, a woman who brought all who knew her so much light.

At the conclusion of the event, fireflies illuminating the night sky provided a fitting send off – a light refusing to be dimmed.

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