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This article was published 2/5/2019 (227 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Coming soon, to a shul not so far away, a Shabbat service based on a long-running movie franchise.
But instead of Jedi, look for Jewdi fighting the dark forces of Darth Oy Veyder in the first—and perhaps only— installment of Star Wars Sabbath, live this Saturday morning at Congregation Shaarey Zedek.
The theme for the 10:45 a.m. family service is the brainchild of Rabbi Anibal Mass, a long time Star Wars fan who will lead it wearing his personal Darth Vader costume, complete with full face mask that makes breathing sounds, and while carrying a polycarbonate lightsaber.
"We’re going to pretend we’re in the Jewdi temple to have the service," said Mass, who employed Yiddish and movie puns for the Saturday morning drama he wrote and stars in, along with eight young actors and featuring synagogue lay clergy Leslie Emery as a Jewdi Knight.
May the 4th be with you! Star Wars Themed Family Shabbat Service
Join us on May 4th, 2019 at 10:45 AM for a STAR WARS THEMED FAMILY SHABBAT SERVICE with Rabbi Aníbal Mass, Leslie Emery, Lay Clergy, and volunteers. Feel free to bring your costumes and lightsabers — Sing some of the prayers with Star Wars tunes — Free Star Wars themed gifts for all the kids! No Registration Required. May the force of Shabbat be with you!Posted by Congregation Shaarey Zedek on Monday, April 15, 2019
"Kids are going to defeat me using the Force."
Mass came up with turning the 75-minute service, which takes place in the synagogue’s lower-level lounge, into a triumph of light versus dark when he realized that Saturday falls on May 4, often referred to as Star Wars Day.
Fans use the spelled-out date – May the fourth—as a pun on the famous line from the movie ‘May the Force be with you.’"
"We believe in Judaism that everything comes from God and has different manifestations," Mass said about the similarities between Jewish teaching and Jedi philosophy.
"In Star Wars, everything comes from one Force."
Most of all, celebrating Star Wars Day inside the synagogue, hard on the heels of Holocaust Remembrance Day last Thursday, May 2, helps children see their faith tradition in a new light, said Mass, who also set the words of two Hebrew prayers to music from the movies.
"Nazis tried to destroy the Jewish people and the antidote to that is having hundreds of people, especially kids, coming to the synagogue to learn about Judaism in a fun yet educational way," he said.
He encourages participants to dress as their favourite Star Wars character and bring their own lightsabers. The family service ends at noon, the same time as the main Shabbat service, which begins at 10 a.m.
Mass also produced a three-and-a-half-minute promotional video using Star Wars style graphics and excerpts from the movie soundtrack, depicting Darth Oy Veyder ringing the office doorbell of the Wellington Crescent synagogue and entering after his ID badge is scanned.
Posted on both the synagogue’s website and Facebook page, the video has been viewed more than 3,500 times, significantly more than other synagogue videos, said Mass. The four comments posted about the video are equally split between loving the idea and hating it, with one commenter calling it "a Jedi mind trick."
Brenda Suderman has been a columnist in the Saturday paper since 2000, first writing about family entertainment, and about faith and religion since 2006.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.
Updated on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 9:55 PM CDT: Fixes typo.