Have you ever longed for an evening where your soul got nourished, your taste buds were smiling, and you felt transported to another place with a sense of timelessness?

Next Friday night, February 25th from 6:30 until 9 pm, Rabbi Miriam Hamrell and Rabbinic Intern Susan Nanus will be leading the first-ever "Soul Shabbat" evening, sponsored by Ahavat Torah Congregation and open to anyone who has a soul, some taste buds, and a desire to try something new and different.

Originally scheduled for January, this creative approach to doing Shabbat in a new way had to be rescheduled for logistical reasons. But now all the elements are coming together for a beautiful evening in which numerous congregation members, friends, relatives, guests, and new acquaintances will join together to experience what Rabbi Miriam has described as, "The warmth and friendliness of a home-cooked Shabbat dinner with all the delicious foods, spiritual meaningfulness, and soul-nourishing conversations. But at a 'Soul Shabbat,' it will be done in a warm and welcoming room large enough for everyone gathered to feel the sense of love and peacefulness of Shabbat together as one."

The dinner, music, conversations, and celebration will be held in the Westwood Hills Congregational Church, 1989 Westwood Boulevard, 90025, which is on the corner of Westwood and LaGrange between Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevards. The gathering will include:

--delicious food prepared with love, including kosher chicken for the omnivores and numerous delicious choices for the vegetarians, along with appetizers and desserts from both the European and Sephardic traditions of Shabbat recipes. In other words, everything from soup to rugalah will be offered.

--live Klezmer music (with Gustavo Bulgach and his Klezmer Juice musicians who combine Eastern European, Latino, and world music rhythms), along with Hasidic storytelling and a lively discussion led by Rabbinic Intern Susan Nanus, who is also a renowned playwright and storyteller (her plays include "The Survivor," "The Orphan Train," and the stage version of "The Phantom Tollbooth.")

--inspiring teachings and conversations led by Rabbi Miriam Hamrell, who has been hosting wonderful dinners in her home for many years and now is bringing her wisdom and her warmth to a larger gathering.

--a participatory candle lighting and lots of participatory singing, including a guest cantor and the always-passionate voices of Ahavat Torah members and friends.

--a suggestion to wear white and feel a connection to your pure soul.

DETAILS: The dinner and evening costs $18 per person by mail (sent to Ahavat Torah Congregation, Post Office Box 442, Santa Monica CA 90406. Please note on your check that this is for the Soul Shabbat. Or you can pay by credit card with a 3% processing fee added if you call Arlene at 310 429-6817). Or there is a $20 charge per person at the door.

--VERY IMPORTANT: Please RSVP as soon as possible to make sure the volunteer shoppers, cooks, and balabusta team of women and men know how many people to cook for on Friday February 25th. Let Arlene and the team know the number of people who will be joining you (friends, family, colleagues) by calling 310 429-6817.

DON'T MISS THIS: Whether you've enjoyed two thousand Shabbat evenings or this is your first opportunity to experience the joy of letting go and breathing in holiness on a Friday night, you are welcome at this memorable and inspiring "Soul Shabbat." Until then, have a good week...a week of peace.

----For more information about Ahavat Torah Congregation or its celebrations, the weekly Shabbat services, ongoing classes and study groups, social action programs, and cultural events, please visit Or call 310 362-1111 to receive the free weekly newsletter of events, classes, holidays, celebrations, and relevant teachings.