Bundle Up & Come Out For Luminary Havdalah

During Rabbi Tobias Moss’ first winter in Minnesota, he went to the Luminary Loppet on Lake of the Isles, a winter staple for Minneapolis, and thought it would pair perfectly with havdalah. Thanks the pandemic, this year is the first time to try it out.

Luminary Havdalah will be at Levin Triangle Park at 26th Street and Irving Avenue, east of Lake of the Isles, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5. 

“I went to the Loppet Festival and it was like the best night of the winter,” said Moss, a rabbi at Temple Israel. “There are lights everywhere, there’s music, there was a fire. And it’s Saturday night. It’s very havdalah-ish. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a way the Jewish community could gather and then join into these festivities?”

After a much scaled-down Loppet in 2021, it’s back this year in a more normal form. Participants can snowshoe, cross-country ski or hike a candlelit trail around the lake, where there once again will be live music — including a performance from local MOT Dan Israel. However, to allow people to space out, there are multiple start times. 

Moss got the ball rolling, but the event is being co-sponsored by a dozen Jewish organizations in the Twin Cities: Shir Harmony, TC Jewfolk, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, YALA Twin Cities, J-Pride, Shir Tikvah Synagogue, Mayim Rabim Congregation, Mount Zion Temple, Beth El Synagogue, Temple of Aaron, Beth Jacob Congregation, and Temple Israel. Attending havdalah is free, but there is a cost to attend the Luminary Loppet afterward. 

“I reached out to the organizers of the event to talk to them about what I was thinking and they were really excited that we were doing this,” said Moss. “They said that there are many community groups that gather in different ways on the evening of the festival, and they love that we’re doing this.”

Shir Harmony will be singing some a capella pieces, Lea Kalisch will be singing and co-hosting, Beth El Synagogue Cantor Ben Tisser will be singing, and Julie Dean will be offering some teachings.

“There will be some other clergy [attending] as well,” Moss said. “It’s a chance for us to learn from all of our teachers and enjoy all of our voices together.”