At a time when the Jewish world seems more polarized than ever, The Shabbat Project is seeking to mobilize more than one million Jews worldwide to pause and observe the Sabbath together this Oct. 23-24.
The goal of The Shabbat Project (also referred to as The Shabbos Project) is to allow Jews from all walks of life to share in one of the most profound and central Jewish traditions – to rest, reflect and rejuvenate – “keeping it together” as a global community. Currently, the Shabbat Project is scheduled to take place in more than 500 cities around the world – from Australia to the UK, from France to Israel, from Russia to the US.
“Modern life has become fragmented; we are constantly pulled in different directions by distractions, demands and onerous responsibilities that pile up with increasing speed. We seldom get the chance to be truly present. In a world of fragmentation, Shabbat enters to offers us that chance to connect and unite as a community, ” said Dr. Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa and the founder of the project.
The Shabbat Project was born two years ago in Johannesburg, quickly proving so popular that it spread across social media and grew into a global grassroots movement. To date, thousands of special local events are planned including synchronized challah baking, communal meals, prayer services, concerts heralding Havdalah (a ceremony marking the end of the Sabbath), and even weekend-long celebrations.
In many ways, The Shabbat Project is a holy global flash mob, a coordinated action, taking place at the same time around the world. For those who have never experienced a traditional 25-hour Jewish Sabbath, The Shabbat Project website offers plenty of user-friendly instruction as well as channels to connect with other participants – both in real and virtual space.
“Shabbat enables us to momentarily set aside the distractions, demands and pressures of daily life, offering us the time and space to renew our inner selves, and to revisit and reinvigorate our most important relationships, ” said Rabbi Goldstein. “We thought that Jewish unity was actually a pipe dream and some kind of utopia that we would never get to. And yet The Shabbat Project gave us a taste of the possibilities of what could be.”