Friday Night Live has become a household name in Cape Town and indeed throughout the world. It continues to draw hundreds of Jews of all ages and from all walks of life to feel the warmth and beauty of an uplifting Shabbat experience on the first Friday night of every month.
The concept of Friday Night Live was created as a means to encourage people of all ages - particularly those who were not Shul regulars, to increase their Shul attendance if only once a month. This would be done by providing a special multifaceted Shabbat experience.
Those who have attended Friday Night Live will rave about the special vibe and atmosphere in Shul which is further enhanced by a crowd ranging anywhere from 500 to 1200 people.
There are special children and teen services running simultaneously with special incentives and prizes on offer. FNL has succeeded in attracting dozens of children and teenagers on a regular basis who otherwise would not attend Synagogue and has succeeded in providing an environment that has both the Spiritual and Social components. With the worldwide trend of the younger generation drifting away from Shul we are extremely proud of the way FNL has succeeded in bringing many youngsters back to Shul.
Every Friday Night Live has its own theme and following the service - before going home for Shabbat dinner - there is a special "themed" Bracha in the Piazza – decorated in the spirit of the chosen theme, where people have the opportunity to mingle and socialize. Some of the past themes have included: Sushi & Scotch, Fruit & Absolut, Chivas & Chocolate, Punch & Perogen, Latkes, Babkes & Bells, Vodka, Viskey & Very nice snacks, Grey Goose & Mousse, Singleton & Smoked Salmon, Hot Chocolate & Cheescake, Cricket, Castle & Curry, Fifa, Felafel & Frangelico, Macallan & Melkterts, Beer & Biltong, Singleton & Smoked Salmon and the list goes on.
A highlight of the year is the Friday Night Live 'Anniversary' celebrations. On this special evening we celebrate by reopening the front grand entrance of the Shul (currently not used on a regular Shabbat) leading out to the company Gardens. A marquee is erected in the gardens and that is where the Brocha is held. Record attendances of up to 1200 people have attended these celebrations which are usually followed by a Shabbat dinner hosting a special guest. The front of the Shul lit up spectacularly with floodlights and the beautifully decorated, brightly lit marquee is truly a sight to behold. The Chazzan and choir singing Shalom Aleichem and making Kiddush on the front steps has brought tears to many an eye and the evenings are regarded as being from the most memorable Shabbat experiences in Cape Town's history.
It is important to stress that Friday Night live is not the end but the beginning. For many in South Africa, Friday night in Shul is the port of entry into the Jewish community and Yiddishkeit. People are often intimidated to come to shul, especially if they can't read Hebrew or follow the service and the FNL's have made Shul 'cool' relevant and more accessible and have helped people begin their Jewish journey, a Spiritual voyage that, with time, will make them more confident, committed Jews. We are confident that with time, every Friday night will be "Live."