The Jewish and Haitian communities will mingle this Friday night at the first ever Haitian Shabbat.
This shabbat will be a fundraising dinner, featuring kosher Haitian food, meant to bring the two communities together so that the Jewish community can learn about how people in Haiti are living since the 2010 earthquake.
The Haitian Shabbat will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Temple Beth Shmuel Cuban Hebrew Congregation, 1700 Michigan Ave. in Miami Beach. The dinner is open to the community and the sponsor, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, suggests a $35 minimum donation.
NPH is an organization that aims to improve the lives of orphaned, abandoned and poor children in Latin America and the Caribbean. Money raised from the dinner will support NPH’s homes, schools, and community outreach programs in Haiti.
“We decided that we would like to have a Friday night service around the world,” said Rabbi Aaron Katz, leader of the Temple Beth Shmuel. “Not only to learn about Jewish communities around the world but to show my community that we are not an island, but that we are a part of a larger community.”
Katz said the shabbat was inspired from the shared responsibility of making the world a better place.
“Not only between Jews, but between us and others,” he said. “How to make a better situation with our actions, with our behavior.”
Katz will host the dinner and proposed the idea of kosher Haitian food.
“I’m not a cook, but the ingredients will be kosher,” Katz said.
The blending of cultures does not stop at the menu, however.
The service will be in three languages: Hebrew, Creole and Spanish.
“It will be a very happy Caribbean-style service,” Katz said. “They will feel the warmth and happiness of the Caribbean.”
Cantor opera singer Stephen Texon will sing with Rara Koyu, a traditional Haitian drummer, beside him.
Billy Jean, a Haitian who NPH Haiti raised from when he was small boy, will give testimony of what life in Haiti is like after the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that left many children injured, homeless, orphaned or poorer than they were before the quake.
NPH ensures that children who are left with them graduate from a university and are able to “give back” to their home countries.
Before Jean was born, his father abandoned him and his mother in Haiti. His mother planned to have an abortion because she knew she couldn’t afford to raise him. Instead, however, Jean's mother decided to leave him when he was 3 at one of NPH Haiti’s homes. Jean, now 24, has about a year and a half left of law school at Quisqueya University in Port-au-Prince. He plans to provide free legal advice to Haitians who can’t afford it.