Shabbat on the Slopes

One of my favorite winter traditions is the Friday afternoon Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath) service in Sunset Cabin, at Deer Valley Resort. Affectionately referred to by members of Temple Har Shalom in Park City as “Ski Schule.” The service is informal and fun, it feels a little bit like camp, and a lot like one of the coolest ways to practice religion I have ever encountered. That is saying something, I have prayed on top of Masada in Israel, and once, my family and I led a service on a cruise ship.

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By the way, I’m uniquely qualified to  assess “cool ways to practice religion,” because I spent one summer at a camp called USY on Wheels, which is a motor-coach tour of the United States. USY is a youth group for Jewish teens, and the purpose of the trip wasn’t just to show several busloads of children the amazing cities and national parks, small towns and stretches of highway that make up our country, but to allow us to experience the idea that you can practice Judaism anywhere. We held services at the Grand Canyon, in picnic areas in Yellowstone, in hotel conference rooms, at highway rest stops. (My husband and I met on this trip, in fact, but that’s another story, altogether.)

Ski Schule has become a tradition for my family. The service is led by members of Temple Har Shalom, often by a rabbi, but frequently by a layperson, in addition to the regular Friday night services in the synagogue, itself. Members and visitors alike, delight in the bragging rights to what may be North America’s only ski-in-ski-out Shabbat service. One recent Friday, I was asked to lead the service. I jumped at the chance, and so did Seth, whose half-day Friday schedule made it easy for him to come help me. So, loaded up with a (homemade-by-me) challah, some grape juice and the key to the cabin, in a backpack, we headed for the hill.

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Every bit of the experience thrilled Seth and me. Setting up was a hoot, Seth found all the “secret compartments” where supplies were stashed. Quickly we gathered supplies, and unloaded the contents of the backpack, then hung the Israeli flag on the pegs outside the door of the cabin.

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Welcoming guests was a blast. Everyone was excited to be there. On this day, it was all locals—which made sense, since the majority of holiday guests were en route or just checking in for the winter break. Helmets were removed, friendly faces revealed—happily, my friends Sue and Ethan, also enjoying a mother-son ski outing, were among them. “I wanted to surprise you,” she said with an impish grin—acknowledging that she had made a zillion excuses as to why she could not join me, just two days earlier. Another guest invited her Mahre Camp coach to join us—something I’m sure he didn’t expect when he clicked into his bindings that morning. A family of three arrived, parents rejoicing in their daughter’s half-day of school, so they could share some turns and the service, together.

Soon, we sang some opening songs and then got down to business. The service is a complete, but abbreviated version of the Reform Jewish “Welcoming the Sabbath” service, held in synagogues around the world on Friday nights. Seth actually stepped up to lead a prayer (making his Jewish mother, who also teaches Hebrew School—kvell) and then, in the tradition of seven year olds, everywhere, grew antsy. “I’m hungry!” He announced just loudly enough that a fellow worshipper heard, and responded by producing a mini Kit Kat from his pocket. (Yes, dear reader, it was the rare candy-free ski day, and I won’t make that mistake again, anytime soon.)

As we concluded the service, I marveled at this amazing blend of communities—guests from all over the world will come to Sunset Cabin, all winter, to be among other worshippers. If you ask them, they will surely tell you the experience enhances, rather than interrupts, their ski day.

To me, Ski Schule (as well as the non-denominational Christian service, held in the same cabin on Sundays at 2 p.m.) is one of those experience that helps define the Deer Valley Difference. It provides a gathering spot for like-minded people to share an experience that is unique and gratifying, social and spiritual. Come to think of it, that’s how I often define a great day on the hill at Deer Valley. How about you?

Would you like more information about services at Sunset Cabin? Send me a Tweet   or @Deer_Valley.

3 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    I find it wonderful. We have celebrated Shabbat all over the world. I hope you will be able to do so too. Shabbat shalom

  2. Jamie Rosenthal says:

    Will there be services tomorrow afternoon? If so, what time? Thanks

  3. Deer Valley says:

    They are at 3 p.m. every Friday of the ski season

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It’s official – the Ikon Pass launches March 6 for the 18/19 season. It comes in two tiers – the Ikon Pass and the Ikon Base Pass –starting at $599. For full details on pass benefits and restrictions, visit: bit.ly/IkonPass_Details ... See MoreSee Less

It’s official – the Ikon Pass launches March 6 for the 18/19 season. It comes in two tiers – the Ikon Pass and the Ikon Base Pass  –starting at $599. For full details on pass benefits and restrictions, visit: http://bit.ly/IkonPass_Details

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And here comes the crowds. Will these still count as "ticket sales" and contribute to DV selling out on busy days?

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We are Deer Valley season pass holders. Will the DV season pass for 18-19 provide us with limited access to the other resorts, or we will need to purchase two (2) different passes?

3 hours ago

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Wow! It is very affordable. How does DV limit the ticket sales on the sold out dates?

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Will there be a Deer Valley ONLY pass? I don't want to ski anywhere else. I love my Deer Valley senior pass.

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What is the option for a full Deer Valley Season pass. They only show ikon pass with 7 days at Deer Valley.

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I enjoy skiing DV because it isn’t overly crowded. Will this add to the crowds?

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Deer Valley Resort need different options for local homeowners!

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Brent Austin

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Happy National Chili Day! Look for complimentary Deer Valley Turkey Chili around the resort today. ... See MoreSee Less

Happy National Chili Day! Look for complimentary Deer Valley Turkey Chili around the resort today.

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Complimentary?

10 hours ago   ·  1

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Austin Ethan Dan Danielle How is it possible I missed this by 9 days?! Nobody loves their turkey chili more than me! NOBODY!!!!😭

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Michael Hawks the day after I leave 🤦🏼‍♀️

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Can’t wait to have my every year Turkey chili better than my husbands. 🙀😜

7 hours ago
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Looks delicious with just the right amount of hallipena peppers.

3 hours ago
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I use to fix Billy turkey chill this looks yummy too.

38 minutes ago
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Yum 😋 wish I was there for some chili and skiing ⛷

4 minutes ago
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I have had their chili and it is great!!!!!

1 hour ago
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Went really well with my Salmon Salad at Empire.

3 hours ago
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Love jalapeño peppers in chili!

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Would go great with a Margarita for National Margarita Day!

7 hours ago   ·  1
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Looks yummy!!! And, FREE makes it even better!!!

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YUM

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Yummmm! Soon!😘

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Melissa Harde Kramer, is this where you really are today!!! ; ))) xxxooo

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looks deliciosos

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Love Chili😉

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My favorite!!!! Josh Ryan

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Lara Shipp Shiffman it's free today !!!

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Ryan Nelson Julie Musci Mita Euse Mita I can’t wait!!!😋🍲

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My favorite

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Rose Hogan a week too late!

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mmmm Nico Canaves

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Christopher Bevan Kimberley Bevan

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It's #WeatherWednesday and a beautiful day up at Deer Valley Resort. The last week accumulated 2-4 feet of fresh snow and the skiing conditions are impeccable. See you on the slopes!

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