Record-shattering 3rd Annual Shabbat Project gathers over a million Jews of diverse backgrounds in 1,150 cities across 94 countries for events to inspire and unite
DENVER, Nov. 22 — Following one of the most bitter, divisive and exhausting presidential races in the history of the United States, the Jewish world took a well-deserved collective deep breath this past Shabbat. More than 1,000 Jews of all walks of life gathered at events – including challah bakes and Shabbat dinners – across Denver and Boulder earlier this month as part of The Shabbat Project.
More than 1,000 participants took part in challah bakes and about 200 people joined in traditional Shabbat activities, such as Friday night “oneg” celebration and a musical Havdallah, around the Denver-Boulder area.
Chaviva Gordon-Bennet, one of The Shabbat Project’s challah bake participants in Denver, said,
“As an introvert, events like The Great Big Challah Bake are tough for me, but it was so nice to see all of the cross-sections of my Denver Jewish life meet in one giant tent tonight, thanks to the amazing efforts of all of the organizers and volunteers!”
The 2016 global Shabbat Project – now in its third year – outdid its predecessors on all fronts, reaching 1,150 cities in 94 countries around the world, and attracting record numbers of participants. An estimated one million people took part in celebrations on and around the Shabbat of Nov. 11-12 – not just in unique Shabbat programs, but in citywide pre-Shabbat “Challah Bakes” and post-Shabbat “Havdallah Concerts.” To coordinate the global initiative on such a large scale, The Shabbat Project’s head office in Johannesburg worked with some 6,000 global partners.
“The response to this year’s Shabbat Project has been stronger than ever,” said South African Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, founder and director of The Shabbat Project. “It has been so inspiring to see how The Shabbat Project connects with millions of Jews from every kind of background, and how people around the world have worked in partnership to make this a sublime moment of Jewish unity, all centered around Shabbat.”
Goldstein, who recently debuted at 21 on The Jerusalem Post’s “50 Most Influential Jews” list and was dubbed the “Good Shabbos Rabbi,” is driven by a conviction that the two major challenges facing the Jewish world – assimilation and apathy on the one hand, and divisiveness and discord on the other – can be reversed through innovative thinking and “big ideas.”
The Shabbat Projects brought together Jews of diverse backgrounds and persuasions in ways never seen before and many of the participants observed Shabbat in full for the first time in their lives. In the U.S. – from Cleveland to Coconut Creek, Houston to Hoboken, New York to North Druid Hills – there were a total of 543 participating cities. Celebrations in Baltimore and San Diego drew tens of thousands of participants.
“We’ve witnessed an outpouring of emotion across the Jewish world, as Jews from all walks of life have embraced The Shabbat Project, putting aside their differences and gathering together in a spirit of love and unity,” said Goldstein.