The 10th annual Shabbat Project will take place this coming weekend over the Shabbat of November 11-12, 2022. The project’s organizers hope to see one million Jews around the world from Australia to Israel, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, the United Kingdom, Morocco and Monaco, to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Guatemala and Chile, take part in Sabbath observances in one form or another.
Whether you call it Shabbat or Shabbos, there is no denying that the Sabbath is the center of Jewish life and religious practice, and has been for thousands of years. All Jewish religious literature over the centuries, from the Talmud, to the writings of the great Rabbis like Maimonides and the various Hasidic Rebbes (masters), has pointed to Sabbath observance as the anchor that has held the Jewish people together, sealing their special relationship with God.
While not all Jews keep the Shabbat in the way that is required under Jewish law, it is still observed on Saturdays by all Jews and recognized as the Jewish day of rest. Saturday Sabbath observance is one of the ways that the world recognizes the uniqueness of Jewish religious practice.
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Hassidic Jews even believe that if all of the Jews in the world were to observe Shabbat just once – in accordance with Jewish law – it would bring about the coming of the Messiah.
This year, over 2,500 Shabbat Project events – more than double than were held in 2021 – will take place on and around this Shabbat, “Parshat Vayeira”, in Jewish communities across the globe. The “Parsha” is a designated section of the Tora – the 5 Books of Moses – one of which is read every Shabbat in synagogues all over the world. This week’s reading is “Vayeira,” in which the 3 angels come to Abraham to tell him that Sarah will give birth to a son in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that he will father a great nation. The Shabbat and its observance is part of the covenant that the children of Israel – Abraham’s descendants – made with God.
The Shabbat Project, led by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, is a global, grassroots movement that unites Jews around the magic of Shabbat. As part of this initiative, Jews from all walks of life – from across the spectrum of religious affiliation, young and old, from all corners of the globe – come together to celebrate and keep one full Shabbat, in a spirit of global Jewish unity.
Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein said, “The Shabbat Project is bringing Jews together around the world. This year’s Shabbat Project is happening shortly after very divisive elections in Israel and the United States, and this is an opportunity to harness the healing power of Shabbat to unify and inspire Jewish communities. In times of rising antisemitism, we need to define ourselves by our values and not by the hatred of others.”
“Through the Shabbat Project, we can create a new Jewish future based on Jewish pride, unity, and values, transcending the barriers that seem to separate us. This is an opportunity to rejuvenate family life, strengthen Jewish unity throughout the world, and restore Jewish pride and identity.”
In Israel alone, more than 250,000 participants are embracing The Shabbat Project, in more than 100 cities throughout the country. Activities are taking place in schools, synagogues and city centers, bridging the stark political and religious divides in Israeli society.
In Europe, Jewish refugees from Ukraine will attend a Shabbat dinner in Strasbourg, France, with hundreds of participants expected. In general, the Shabbat Project in France is focused on youth, with Shabbatons for students and young professionals, and events dedicated to teenagers, happening across the country.
In South America, Buenos Aires will host a mass outdoor challah bake in a park for around 3,000 women. Other Shabbat Project events are happening in Córdoba, Argentina, Guatemala, and Chile.
And in South Africa, where the Shabbat Project began in 2013, a new, ambitious initiative – the Journey to 25 hours – is empowering Jewish families to keep Shabbat throughout the year.
New countries joining the project this year include Tahiti and Morocco, with events taking place in Casablanca in the build-up to Shabbat, culminating in a community-wide Shabbat meal.
Hundreds of Jewish communities in North America are also participating in The Shabbat Project. In San Diego, 180 diverse Jewish organizations are coordinating events for the entire Jewish community, including one at a local farm.
In Los Angeles, the Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy is running 10 events for children and their families, including a block party Kabbalat Shabbat service in the streets and a Shabbat lunch in the school gym, while religious and secular families will pair up for Shabbat dinner.
Portland, Maine will be participating in The Shabbat Project for the first time, with a challah bake at the local JCC.
The Shabbat Project is an international grassroots movement that brings together Jews from all walks of life and all levels of observance to keep one Shabbat, celebrated in a spirit of global Jewish unity. First launched in South Africa in 2013, by founder Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, the Shabbat Project has, through a team of trailblazing volunteer partners, spread to over 1,500 cities and 100 countries. Every year, in addition to celebrating Shabbat at home with their families, participants are involved in unique Shabbat programs, and in city-wide Shabbat unity events. Since the start of the Shabbat Project, an untold number have observed Shabbat in full for the first time in their lives.