Instead of my regular Good News Friday post, (given that I only arrived back in Israel a couple of days ago and haven’t quite got my act together), I am going to post about the Shabbat Project (Or Shabbos in Ashkenazi pronunciation). This project is brilliant in its conception and fantastic in its execution.
This year’s Shabbat Project is taking place this weekend, so I thought it appropriate to post about it here.
First, here is a video from the Shabbat Project‘s YouTube channel, explaining what it’s all about:
The Jerusalem Post writes about the keeping Shabbat in such far-flung places as Myanmar:
The Shabbat Project will take place worldwide on October 26-27. Every year for the past six years the Shabbat Project has encouraged Jews around the world to celebrate Shabbat together.
“The idea is simple: Jews from all walks of life, from across the spectrum of religious affiliation, young and old, from all corners of the world – come together to experience the magic of one full Shabbat kept together – in full accordance with Jewish law,” the Shabbat Project’s website stated.
More than one million Jews from more than 1,000 cities in 98 countries are slated to participate. New countries hope to join the festivities such as Myanmar, Tasmania, Argentina, Ghana and Dutch Caribbean island.
“The reality is that in our modern age, as a result of the lives we live and lifestyle choices we make, we end up not having the time or the emotional space to devote attention to the things that really matter – personal growth, our families and relationships, our spiritual wellbeing,” Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, the founder said. “Shabbat gives us that time and that space, and the results of that can be truly transformative.”
The Shabbat Project looks different across the globe. In Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, the owner of a local hostel will offer free accommodation and meals to anyone who chooses to keep Shabbat. Mountaineers camping on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania are pausing for 25 hours to keep Shabbat.
This lovely article from the Jewish Press compares the ease with which we can keep Shabbat today to the near-impossibility of observing even such a minor mitzvah of lighting candles that was experienced during the Spanish Inquisition:
This week under The Shabbat Project more than one million Jews will circle the world with light – the light of the Sabbath candles – as Jews of every affiliation do their best to keep Shabbat together. The small flames of their Shabbat candles will shine in homes and hearts from South Africa to the South Bronx, from Mexico to Mozambique.
Glowing Sabbath candles or lamps are one of the central symbols of Judaism throughout the world, throughout the centuries.
The flame of Shabbat candles mystically transforms a home into a place of holiness, transcending time, uniting Jews in every generation with those who have come before and those yet to come.
Two flames remind us to keep and to remember (shamor v’zechor) the Sabbath, the Divine Presence, the eternity of our people and our heritage.
In a world when we can simply purchase candles or olive oil or colored paraffin and then light them right in the middle of our beautifully adorned Sabbath table, it is hard to comprehend that during many times in our history, Jews actually risked their lives to light up the darkness with their two flames.
In the upcoming musical production, “HIDDEN – The Secret Jews of Spain”, one of its characters, Luciana Lombroso of Avila is sent to the Inquisition prison when a neighbor spies her lighting two candles in clay pots on a Friday night.
“Observance of the Sabbath is the most persistent crypto-Jewish custom,” according to historian David M. Gitlitz. “Reverence for the unique holy nature of the Sabbath was one of the central tenets of crypto-Judaism….” Achad HaAm wrote, “More than Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept Jews.” This was certainly the case with medieval Spain’s crypto-Jews.
The secret Jews during the Spanish Inquisition kept the Sabbath in the ways they could – some preparing their food on Fridays, bathing and changing their clothing and linens, refraining from work on Saturdays, joining together for clandestine communal prayers, or when things were most difficult, keeping the Sabbath “in their hearts.”
The founders of the Shabbat Project are to blessed for their wonderful initiative. Furthermore We must be eternally grateful to Hashem for enabling us to live in the modern 21st century, where we can observe Shabbat to our heart’s content, especially in the Land of Israel.
May this Shabbat Project unite the entire Jewish People and bring the Geulah speedily in our days.
Shabbat Shalom everyone!