Two congregations join to host ‘An Evening in Casablanca, Casino Night’

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By Marshall Smith

Staff Reporter

Idyllwild’s St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church and Temple Har Shalom share history. Shortly after the temple was established in 2014, Father Dan Rondeau, vicar at St. Hugh’s, contacted the new Jewish congregation as part of his ecumenical outreach mission and vision. 

Last December, St. Hugh’s and Har Shalom, along with representatives from other Idyllwild faith traditions, celebrated the third-annual Service of Solace at St. Hugh’s. The first service in 2014 marked the beginning of a continuing partnership between St. Hugh’s and Har Shalom. In February 2016, the Jewish congregation began meeting regularly at St. Hugh’s for its worship services. 

Both St. Hugh’s and Har Shalom share a commitment to diversity, to spiritual seekers, and to ecumenical cooperation and support. Har Shalom’s website advises, “Our community is known for its diversity and we will work towards igniting sparks of life and creating a sense of belonging, community and a life of purpose here without any judgment.” St. Hugh’s site notes, “Our faith community is an eclectic mix of people with differing backgrounds and perspectives, united together in a common love of God and neighbor.”

Together the congregations are joining for a distinctly secular purpose, to sponsor “An Evening in Casablanca, Casino Night,” a Valentine’s eve celebration of music, dancing, light food and gaming. Tickets are $25 and include 30 gaming chips plus a complimentary beverage. “Round up the usual suspects and come dressed in 1940s Casablanca style for an evening of Moroccan fun,” the congregations suggest. “Here’s looking at you, kid!”

Har Shalom Rabbi Malka Drucker and Father Dan Rondeau invite the wider community to come and have fun. “For this event our two communities are coming together to benefit our two churches and also the wider community of Idyllwild,” said Drucker. She noted that each congregation also gives money to other Idyllwild organizations such as the Help Center. “Both congregations support beyond their own,” said Drucker.

“I think it is wonderful, especially given today’s political climate, that our two organizations can come together, sharing the same space for worship and creating a mutual benefit event,” said St. Hugh’s event co-chair Christina Nordella. Pat Schnetzer is Har Shalom event co-chair.

For more information about “An Evening in Casablanca, Casino Night,” call (760) 699-4912. Tickets can be purchased after services at St. Hugh’s 11:15 a.m. or at Images Gallery Idyllwild (next to Café Aroma).

Marshall Smith can be reached 

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