Celebrity Shabbat Shalom Wishes
Rabbi Jason Miller
Sending out a weekly email newsletter to friends has become more than a routine for Lisa Mark Lis. It has become her passion. While many businesses and organizations have been sending out weekly missives to their subscriber bases for many years, it has only recently become common for an individual to do so. Lis, a suburban Detroit based community activist and philanthropist, includes something unique in her Friday morning email posts to friends and family. Not only does she wish her readers a “Shabbat Shalom,” but she also often has a celebrity or politician do the same.
Lis has video recorded notable performers wishing a “Shabbat Shalom” like James Taylor, Carol King, Paul Simon, Neil Sedaka, and David Broza. Even President Barack and Michelle Obama have offered “Shabbat Shalom” wishes on camera for Lis, in addition to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. Some lesser known celebs have gotten into the action too including Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger and actor Wally Shawn, who is famous for his role in “The Princess Bride.”
Lis is never too shy to ask for a quick “Shabbat Shalom” greeting even if she just happens to run into a celebrity like she did when she saw actor David Hasselhoff. When Lis told Marvin Hamlisch some of the famous people who had previously recorded “Shabbat Shalom” messages in the past, the composer raised a glass of champagne to Lis’s camera phone and said, “I’m not Paul Simon and I’m not James Taylor. I’m Marvin Hamlisch and yes, I know how to say ‘Shabbat Shalom’”.
Lis has been sending her weekly greeting every Friday for close to two-and-a-half years. She isn’t even sure how many people are on her distribution list, but it includes friends and family from around the world including a large contingent in Israel (her husband Hannan is a native Israeli). Lis says she sends out these messages each week as a way to wish as many people as possible to have a good weekend and as a way to stay in touch with her connections. “I do it to say ‘Shabbat Shalom’ and then anything else I add is my soapbox,” explained Lis. “I started to include the video messages of famous people saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ as a fun addition to the emails. It makes people smile. Now people have come to expect them.”
Political views are included in some of her weekly messages and so are reminders to attend local fundraising events for causes she supports. A paragraph encouraging her readers to remember Gilad Shalit during his captivity was a staple of each week’s email message until his release in October. Every email message includes wishes of “happy birthday” and “mazel tov” to her friends and family celebrating milestones in the upcoming week.
Lis plans to continue finding the inner chutzpah to ask any celebs or politicians she encounters to utter those two Hebrew words for her camera phone. After all, it’s not every Friday that an email arrives with a video of the leader of the free world wishing you a “Shabbat Shalom.”