Friday Night Fever
A combination of traditional prayer and modern music brings a crowd to Shabbat services.
Above: Andrew, 3, and Zacheiy Schildcrout, 8,
of Huntington Woods participate in Friday Night Fever:
Left: Rabbis Lauren and Jonathan Berkun lead
the Oct. 22 musical service.
SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
hirley and Dr. Lenny Cetner of
Troy discovered that a night of
dinner and music with a group
of peers can be both enjoyable and
inspirational. Even when it takes place
in the triangular-shaped, stained-glass-
windowed building they call their syn-
The Cetners recently began to
attend the 3-year-old Friday Night
Fever, a traditional Kabbalat Shabbat
service at Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, highlighted by memorable,
spirited music in a setting that ushers
in the peace of Shabbat.
"This is a comprehensive service,
with traditional liturgy," said Rabbi
Jonathan Berkun, who with his wife,
Rabbi Lauren Berkun, lead the service
with occasional help from Rabbis
Joseph Krakoff and Eric Yanoff. "But
our goal is to enable everyone to fol-
low along and have access to the beau-
tiful, meaningful words of the service."
A transliteration of the service is
shared as a supplement to encourage
participation, especially in song.
"Many come away with the
melodies in their head," Rabbi Berkun
said of the expressive, catchy, musical
prayers, including some inspired by
the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlbach and
composer/performer Craig Taubman.
"The tunes — and even the words —
stay with them during the week."
"It is a really beautiful, special,
musical service," Cetner said. "The
kids dance in the aisles, people hold
hands and everyone really partici-
But most important, Rabbi
Jonathan Berkun said, is "how they
become accustomed to remembering
Matthew Frank, 4, of Bloom - eld Township claps
to the beat of the music with his dad, Jonathan.
— even if only for the 25 hours of
Shabbat — what is truly important in
The rabbis introduce prayers in a
way that helps the Oakland County
congregation focus on their words,
intent and meaning.
"It is much more relevant when peo-
ple can connect their current lives to
the prayers," he said. "We speak to the
challenge of our daily lives in terms of
the words of prayer. We discuss how
we recharge a bit on Shabbat and rein-
vigorate our souls to see the incoming
week as a gift of new time."
Rabbi Berkun regularly sees familiar
faces at the monthly, hour-long serv-
ice, which is open to the community.
"I see many coming back month to
month," he said of the group 200-400
participants. "That is because this type
of joyful, contemplative, musical serv-
ice touches them."
Alexis Farbman, 4 months, watches the crowd, while her parents, Andy and
Amy Farbman of Franklin, enjoy the service and their daughter.
The service targets young singles,
couples and families with children —
mostly 20- and 30-somethings — but
everyone is welcome. Cetner even saw
some of her parents' friends at the
service last month.
The next Friday Night Fever, usually
the second Friday of the month, will
be 6 p.m. Nov. 12. Rabbi David
Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles
will speak on children and God at the
optional Shabbat dinner after the serv-
ice. His talk is sponsored by the Laker
family in memory of Sarah and Harry
"My husband and I have been to
Friday Night Fever twice," Dr. Lenny
Cetner said. "We'll definitely be back
for the totally different feel of the serv-
ice, to be surrounded by other young
families and for the very spiritual
The next monthly Friday
Night Fever service at
Zedek in Southfield
is 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12.
It is open to the communi-
ty at no charge. Cost for
Shabbat dinner following
the service: adults, $15;
children older than 3, $5;
children 3 and younger,
no charge. RSVP: Shaarey
Zedek, (248) 357-5544.