Registration for the November 2020 virtual training has closed. To be updated about future opportunities, please email Pammie Shapiro.

Wherever you are in the world Judaism has a time and place for meaning-making – Shabbat. Birthright Israel and OneTable are partnering together to offer a new, immersive training program for North American madrichim designed to help you elevate your ability to transform Shabbat into a time of joy, reflection, and conversation – setting the stage to become a better, and more engaging, facilitator of Shabbat experiences on Birthright Israel trips.

Seminar Details

Creating a meaningful Shabbat experience is both fulfilling and inspiring and can be a respite from the demands and challenges of daily life. It’s also an opportunity for you to explore and experiment, to learn what you love about Shabbat and what creates the most meaning for you. 

During these virtual workshops, we will explore this idea of personal connection, including identifying our own Shabbat dinner practice. We will look to form an emotional connection to Shabbat and to harness that energy so it can be translated into powerful programming ideas. In so doing, we will explore the possibilities of what Shabbat can offer our trip participants by modeling the training around the ideas of hospitality, welcoming, and ritual. Ultimately, these shared values will help us to empower trip participants to lead pieces of the Shabbat experience themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is The Shabbat Leadership Training Seminar?

The Shabbat Leadership Training Seminar is an online training program for both new and experienced Birthright Israel staff designed to inspire you to create Shabbat experiences for your participants while elevating your own ability to transform Shabbat into a day of meaning and exploration – both in Israel and at home.

The program will consist of attending two mandatory 90-minute Zoom workshops designed to give you the confidence, and competence, to approach Shabbat as a day of meaning, opportunity, and inspiration. And, following completion of the two workshops, you will be required to host a OneTable Shabbat dinner modeling what you’ve learned during the training sessions. You’ll need to act as a Shabbat host prior to the end of 2020, or before you staff your next Birthright Israel trip (whichever comes first).

When will the training sessions be offered?

The Zoom workshops will be taking place during the first two weeks of November 2020. To be considered for this training program, you must commit to fully participating in each of the two workshops. Both sessions will be offered twice to offer flexibility in scheduling.

Session One Options:

  • Sunday, November 1st – 1:00pm-2:30pm EST // 10:00-11:30am PT
  • Thursday, November 5th – 6:00pm-7:30pm EST // 3:00-4:30pm PT

Session Two Options:

  • Sunday, November 8th – 1:00pm-2:30pm ET // 10:00-11:30am PT
  • Tuesday, November 10th – 6:00pm-7:30pm ET // 3:00-4:30pm PT

What topics will be introduced?

The seminars will help you figure out Shabbat on your own terms, holding tradition in one hand and innovation in the other. You will leave the workshops feeling confident and prepared to facilitate the 25-hours of Shabbat on future Birthright Israel trips, allowing your participants to explore Judaism through their own Shabbat experiences when they return home.

 The trainings will be a deep dive into Shabbat, including:

  • What is Shabbat? What can it do, and what can it be for me and my participants?
  • Preparation and programming for the full 25-hour Shabbat experience, including spiritual leadership, delegation to participants, one-on-one conversations, and both large and small group activities.
  • An interactive immersion into Shabbat rituals and customs, including where they come from and how to make them relevant.
  • Skills to make the most of tradition and innovation.

Who will I be learning with at the seminars?

In addition to your cohort of peers, you will have the opportunity to learn with master Shabbat faculty from OneTable and Birthright Israel staff.


What's the application process?

Interested trip staff must first complete a brief online application. Selected applicants will then be invited to participate in the program. Acceptance will work largely on a first-come, first-served basis (assuming you meet the eligibility criteria).

If you’re ready to apply, click here.

Who is eligible for this program?

Applicants must be identified* as someone who will likely be staffing a Birthright Israel trip during our Winter 2020-2021 (December through March) or Summer 2021 (April through September) travel seasons.

This includes experienced Birthright Israel madrichim (in good standing), and potential new staff who are known to Trip Organizers.

 *Confirmation of future trip status will be done in consultation with Birthright Israel Trip Organizers.

I haven't staffed a Birthright Israel trip before. Can I still apply?

If you already have a commitment from a Trip Organizer or know that you will be staffing a Birthright Israel trip as part of your job within the next year, then you can apply to the program.

I am a Jewish professional with significant experience already. Is this program for me?

Yes, this program is for anyone passionate about becoming a better Birthright Israel trip leader and educator, regardless of your current level of experience!

I have already staffed multiple Birthright Israel trips, is this program for me?

Yes. If you want to become more confident, and educated, in leading Shabbat ritual and programming, then this training program is most definitely for you.

I have already participated in another Birthright Israel-led, in-person madrichim training program. Can I still apply?

If you have already participated in a Birthright Israel | OneTable in-person Shabbat Retreat (or a similar OneTable program), then you are not eligible to participate in these workshops.

Birthright Israel Fellows are eligible to apply.


How is hosting a OneTable Shabbat dinner tied into the program?

After participating in the two mandatory 90-minute Zoom training seminars, you will then be required to host a OneTable Shabbat dinner putting into practice what was modeled during the online sessions.

You’ll need to act as a Shabbat host prior to the end of 2020, or before you staff your next Birthright Israel trip (whichever comes first).

How do I host a OneTable Shabbat dinner? And, how do I receive credit for doing so?

After completing the workshops, OneTable will provide you with details on how to sign-up to host your Shabbat dinner through their online platform.

This could be an in-person (socially distanced) or virtual Shabbat experience. Being part of this leadership training program requires that when you do host, that you’ll model your Shabbat practice and conversations around what you learned during the training seminars. Additionally, you’ll need to invite at least three guests to join in your Shabbat experience (again, this can be in-person or virtually). They can be friends, neighbors, family members, former Birthright Israel participants, etc. 

Upon completing the sign-up process, OneTable will ship you a box of Shabbat materials to help you elevate your Shabbat dinner (if in the US or Canada). Additionally, you will receive an e-gift card* (Nourishment) to help cover your costs** at a ratio of $10 per guest*** (including yourself) up to a maximum of $100. 

*Only people who host in North America will receive nourishment for their Shabbat dinner.

**Jewish professionals who already host Shabbat dinners for students on campus will not receive financial assistance towards a pre-scheduled Shabbat dinner if hosting with that pre-existing community.

***Hosts will only receive funding for guests who are 21 years old or older.


What will it mean to become part of this training cohort?

You will have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other Birthright Israel madrichim, and become a part of a network of skilled leaders and educators. You’ll be equipped with the knowledge and resources you’ll need to prepare, and program, the Shabbat experience on Birthright Israel trips, while also deepening your personal understanding of Shabbat and the rituals and practices that elevate the 25-hours no matter where you find yourself.

Will my role differ on the bus from my co-staff?

Sort of. You will board your bus with significant educational tools and resources to enrich the experiences of your participants on the ground in Israel, especially during Shabbat, and once they return home. However, your core responsibilities of staffing will not change, and the expectation is that you will work as a team with your co-staff to create a meaningful environment and implement the tools you’ve learned.

Does this program mean I automatically staff a Birthright Israel trip?

Ultimately there are no guarantees that you will be offered a trip to staff. And, given current circumstances, it’s impossible to know whether there will be a reduction in the number of opportunities to lead a trip over the course of the next year. That said, for the purposes of being accepted into this training program, a Trip Organizer will have had to identify you as someone they plan to hire to lead a trip either in Winter 2020-2021 or Summer 2021.

Are there staffing requirements related to being accepted into the program?

As mentioned above, you must be committed to staffing at least one Birthright Israel trip following completion of the training program. Preference will be given to applicants with confirmed Winter 2020-2021 or Summer 2021 staffing assignments.

More questions? Contact Pammie Shapiro at or call 202-630-7538.

The Shabbat Leadership Training Seminar is a project of Birthright Israel in partnership with OneTable and made possible through a grant from the Paul E. Singer Foundation.

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