By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
Dear Rabbi Fried,
We have received numerous notifications about an upcoming program called the Shabbat Project, sometimes called the International Shabbat Project. It looks nice, but we don’t like to join things I hear about by mail unless we have them substantiated that they’re legitimate. Do you know about this and is it something we should consider joining?
— Marci and Josh K.
Dear Marci and Josh,
On the upcoming Shabbat Oct. 23 – 25, thousands of Jews throughout the world will be joining hands and hearts in an unprecedented show of Jewish unity and love through the common observance of one of the most beautiful and meaningful of Jewish traditions — the holy Shabbat.
Spearheaded in 2013 by the forward thinking and popular Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, over a half of South Africa’s 75,000 Jews observed a Shabbat together. It was a transformational experience in so many ways; the South African Jewish community will never be the same, both in its unity and its Jewish commitment as spelled out by the testimonials of many. Some 2,500 women joined hands, kneaded and baked challah together under the stars. Accompanied by live music and dancing, these women forged a new connection which transcended any political or observance differences between them, all becoming like sisters with a common purpose.
As a result of the tremendous success of the South African experiment, Rabbi Goldstein expanded this project to the international arena. Working together and in consultation with Jewish leaders and organizations throughout the U.S. and the world, it has been decided that the October date, immediately following the High Holiday season, will be the Shabbat that Jews across the world will be invited to further join hands and hearts in the observance of a holy Shabbat.
Dallas is proud to join this effort and ride the waves of excitement, commitment and unity swelling up throughout America and the world. The event begins Thursday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. with a public challah baking at the Aaron Family JCC; men, women and children are invited to join. Dallas Jewry will then be observing public Shabbat meals, lectures and workshops at various local synagogues and locations. The popular and engaging Rabbi Gav Friedman of Jerusalem and other leading speakers will offer meaningful talks, classes and workshops throughout the Shabbat. The weekend will culminate in a communitywide gala musical celebration, a “Unity Concert & Havdallah Ceremony” led by the world-renowned musician Eitan Katz of New York. This unique, memorable celebration will be held under that stars on the lawn of the JCC at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25.
This effort is being spearheaded in Dallas by a dedicated committee of volunteers of all ages who are hard at work putting together the myriad details of this unique weekend with great excitement and commitment!
The High Holiday season is all about Jewish unity. We join together on Rosh Hashanah and coronate the King with our prayers and shofar blast; there’s no king without a nation! Yom Kippur, more than any day of the year, Jews of all stripes and affiliations bind together in fasting and prayer. On Sukkot, we hold the lulav branch with four species representing every type of Jew: scholarly and observant, scholarly and non-observant, observant and non-scholarly, and neither scholarly nor observant. We need them all, every last Jew, bound together to make up the Jewish people. Joining the Shabbat project NOW is an incredible opportunity for Jewish unity. It is a tremendous merit for the individual and the Jewish people as a whole to do something so truly meaningful as participating in an international Shabbat. If we have peace from within, the Al-mighty will reward us with peace from those from without, granting us a year of peace and prosperity for Israel and Jews throughout the world.
For more information or to sign up, volunteer or to be a sponsor, check out the website www.DallasShabbatProject.com or to contact a volunteer to get involved email Dallas@TheShabbosProject.com.
L’shanah tovah tikateivu, wishing a sweet, prosperous and healthy year for you and all the readers.
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.