Now in its third year, The Shabbat Project is firmly established as a greatly anticipated annual highlight of the global Jewish calendar and community. By nurturing a warm celebration of one of the central pillars of Judaism, while encouraging unity, this bold initiative is charting a new and hopeful course for the Jewish world.
Johannesburg, SA. October 28, 2016 — Following one of the most bitter, divisive and exhausting presidential races in the history of the United States, the opportunity to celebrate a well-deserved Sabbath as a global community will take place on the very first weekend after Election Day on the Shabbat of November 11th and 12th 2016 the Third Annual International Shabbat Project will place in hundreds of cities around the world with an anticipated million-plus participants marking the Jewish Day of Rest.
The Shabbat Project (www.theshabbatproject.org) is a global, grassroots movement that brings Jews from across the world together to keep a single, unforgettable Shabbat, transcending religious denomination, political persuasion or other arbitrary boundaries such as age, professional achievement or lifestyle.
“Over the past two years, it was nothing short of thrilling and deeply inspiring to witness Jews come together across every conceivable divide—language, culture, ethnicity, geography, observance,” says South African Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, the founder and director of The Shabbat Project.
The concept is profound yet simple: the global Jewish community will be uniting for a transformative shared experience which is as old as the Bible and yet as contemporary as the 21st Century.
Last year, The Shabbat Project reached 919 cities and 84 countries across the globe. An estimated one million people took part—not just in unique Shabbat programs but as part of city-wide, spirited pre-Shabbat “Challah Bakes” and post-Shabbat “Havdallah Concerts.” This year, the Women of the J is presenting the Great Big Challah Bake on November 10th as part of the Shabbat Project 2016.
An untold number observed Shabbat in full for the first time in their lives. Just as importantly, people of diverse backgrounds and persuasions were brought together in ways not yet experienced before. This year, especially for the American Jewish community, it is anticipated that the Shabbat Project will provide the opportunity for a sacred, safe space where unity can take place alongside the beautiful observance of the Day of Rest. The aim this year is to engage people in a thousand cities around the world in the initiative.
Goldstein, who recently debuted at #21 on the Jerusalem Post’s list of the “50 Most Influential Jews” and was dubbed the “Good Shabbos Rabbi” is driven by a conviction that the two major challenges besetting 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”.
“Big ideas can change the world and the Jewish world today needs them more than ever. The Shabbat Project is one such big idea: a call to Jews all around the globe to think boldly about our future, to connect across the walls we’ve put up. The Shabbat Project is the story of Jews returning to their roots, reconnecting with their heritage, returning to their bonds of natural closeness and friendship—all through the Shabbat experience.”
“Shabbat can do that”
The theme of this year’s Shabbat Project is “Shabbat can do that!”
Goldstein explains: “In 2014 and again in 2015, through the transformative power of Shabbat, we’ve seen individuals and communities accomplish great things; things that before were not thought possible. We’ve seen walls torn down, families strengthened and rejuvenated, deep feelings awakened, lasting friendships formed. This is what Shabbat can do.
“It has been a privilege to see it unfold; to witness the magic of Shabbat take hold in cities across the world. This year especially, the need for healing and unity is perhaps greater than its ever been.”
This year, the South African Chief Rabbi and his team are aiming to see how far they can push the limits of the Shabbat Project, moving the needle past the million mark.
“More and more people are joining what’s become a huge worldwide social movement,” he says, in closing. “And while an extreme rift was formed in American society over this past year, it is obvious that the entire world would benefit from the sacred, safe and nurturing space created by Shabbat which has inspired and unified Jewish communities throughout the ages and across continents.
“In the build-up to this year’s Shabbat Project on November 11th and 12th, we are encouraging literally every Jew in every corner the world to experience the magic and transformative power of Shabbat, to join together across the divisions and labels we’ve constructed, to connect to our ancient yet eternally relevant traditions, and to each other, in a deeply meaningful way.”
The Shabbat Project will be taking place on November 11th and 12th 2016. To sign up, find out how you can become a partner, or for more info, visit: www.theshabbatproject.org.