Host a ‘Shabbat in the Park’ In Your Twin Cities Neighborhood This Summer

With summer approaching, Minnesota Mammalehs’ summer event series, Shabbat in the Park (SITP), will soon be active again across Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods.

Shabbat in the Park is a casual Shabbat get-together is a chance to meet other Jewish parents/guardians and build relationships with Jewish families in your area. Parents/guardians and kids of all ages, interfaith families, non-religious families, and reconnecting families are welcome. Bring a blanket/chairs and picnic snacks/dinner (whatever works for your family) and come to play!

This initiative, supported by PJ Library, aims to build Jewish identity and community connections outside the traditional settings of synagogues. 

“Hosts sign up to host an open-to-all SITP throughout the summer months. We give them a little money for challah and treats and help with the advertising and they take care of being the hostess and inviting people to it,” said Galit Breen, TC Jewfolk’s operations and development manager.

Terri Lindenbaum, who lives in South Minneapolis with her husband and children, is a former SITP host and a passionate community builder. 

“Initially, I got involved with hosting because I used to work for PJ Library in Minneapolis as a parent connector, and it was a super easy transition for me to host them in my own neighborhood through [TC Jewfolk’s] Mammalehs group,” she said. 

“I was inspired to host these events to foster a sense of belonging within the neighborhood. I really wanted to do one in our neighborhood park because I wanted to meet more Jewish families.”

Carrie Fink, a former host from the Longfellow neighborhood who works in development for the St. Paul Public Library system, also shared her experiences.

To Fink, SITP provides an invaluable platform for connecting with local Jewish families. “There is this assumption that there aren’t any Jewish folks around…I sort of thought the same thing until I had kids,” she said. 

“[The SITP] was really lovely. We congregated around a couple of picnic tables, we said the blessings, and people brought their own dinners. We had such a fun evening, and we lucked out with the weather,” she said.

PJ Library plays a crucial role in supporting these events by fostering inclusive practices and ensuring hosts have everything they need.

In St. Paul neighborhoods, Ellen Konstan of PJ Library of St. Paul provides support, ranging from marketing assistance to supplying traditional items like kiddush cups. “Our role is to support the host in whatever way they need,” Konstan said. “It’s meaningful because it brings children together in a Jewish environment.”

In Minneapolis, Geri Goldman coordinates the Shabbat in the Park (SITP) events. She outlined the logistical support from PJ Library, which includes providing a ‘Shabbat in a Bag’ kit containing all the necessary items for Shabbat. “We bring a suitcase filled with juice boxes, Shabbat PJ Library books, and all the ritual items,” she said.

Hosts are encouraged to shape their events to their particular neighborhood. “It really comes down to what the hosts want. Some hosts just want to take it and run; some want a little more help,” Konstan said. 

SITP stands out for its inclusivity and adaptability, as it is not limited to Jewish families, but open to all members of the community. Lindenbaum noted positive interactions with non-Jewish families at the park. “Kids are so curious and are so willing to ask questions…It’s a great thing, I think, for parents, too,” she said.

These events provide a safe and festive way to practice and celebrate Jewish traditions publicly: “I think it’s more important than ever to be in community, especially in your neighborhood,” said Fink.

New hosts and attendees are encouraged to participate. “Whether you’re an expert at hosting Shabbat or whether you’re new to it, there’s room for people to learn. It’s a big tent, and we want people in it, and we’ll do whatever it takes to help,” said Konstan.

Sign up to host now at or contact [email protected] with any questions.