Detroit to join in global project to celebrate Shabbat together.
Wherever you usually fall on the spectrum of Sabbath observance, consider participating in the Shabbos Project Oct. 24 and 25.
You’ll be joining Jews of all denominations, from haredi to humanist, in Metro Detroit and all over the world, in celebrating a Sabbath together.
“We want to have one weekend when everyone in the Jewish community, whatever their level of Jewish observance, can keep Shabbat together,” said Rabbi Bentzion Schechter, director of the Partners in Torah program at Yeshiva Beth Yehuda in Southfield, who is coordinating the local effort.
The Sabbath — called Shabbat (emphasis on second syllable) in Hebrew or Shabbos (emphasis on first syllable) in Yiddish — is one of the most distinctive Jewish practices. As directed in the Ten Commandments, Jews “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” in recognition that God rested on the seventh day after the creation of the world.
The Sabbath is a day to refrain from work, shopping and the everyday business of the rest of the week. Orthodox Jews also refrain from travel and the use of electricity or any electronic gadgets, spending the time in worship, study and festive meals with family and friends.
“It’s an opportunity to unplug and recharge,” Schechter said. “Depending on individuals’ comfort levels, they can do as little or as much as they want.”
Some who are new to observance of Shabbat may simply want to turn off their computers, smartphones and televisions for the day, stay home and relax. Synagogues and temples throughout the community will welcome visitors to Shabbat services. So if there’s a synagogue close to your home, consider walking there instead of driving.
Others may want to try to experience a complete Orthodox Shabbat, either in their own home or with a host family. The Shabbos Project’s free booklet, The Unofficial Guide to Keeping It Together, has complete instructions. The booklet includes all the blessings in Hebrew with transliteration and English translation. The Shabbos Project coordinators can also provide coaches to guide those who are new to experiencing Shabbat.
Dozens of local families have volunteered to host individuals, couples or families, either for a Friday night meal or for the entire Sabbath. Register for home hospitality at www.shabbosprojectmi.com.
Shabbos In The D
Detroit’s Shabbos Project will begin with a free challah-making event for women and girls at 7:30 p.m. (registration at 7 p.m.) on Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Shriners Silver Garden Event Center, 24350 Southfield Road, Southfield. Visit shabbosprojectmi.com for more information or to register.
Participants will learn about the rituals involved in making challah, the braided egg bread used on the Sabbath, and will make a loaf of their own.
“We’re calling it a ‘challah make and take’ rather than ‘challah bake,’” Schechter said. “Participants will make a batch of challah and take the dough home to bake because the aroma of baking bread is part of the whole Shabbat experience.”
Shabbat will end with a Havdalah service marking the transition from Shabbat to the rest of the week, followed by a free concert open to the community. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. at Young Israel of Oak Park on 10 Mile Road east of Greenfield. Visit the website for more information or to register.
The Shabbos Project started last year in South Africa, the brainchild of Dr. Warren Goldstein, the country’s chief rabbi.
After a short but intensive publicity campaign, the majority of South Africa’s 75,000 Jews, in eight communities throughout the country, observed the designated Sabbath together. Some attended communal Friday night dinners. Others shared meals in private homes. For many, it was their first experience of a Jewish Sabbath.
The community-wide open-air Havdalah service in Johannesburg attracted an audience of 50,000.
During the concert, stories started to pour in from people who said they’d had the most inspiring, uplifting, wonderful day, Goldstein said. The experience electrified the entire community, he said.
This year, Goldstein has taken the project global, enlisting committees to plan similar events in Jewish communities around the world.
“The beauty of the Shabbos Project is that it’s for every Jew. It doesn’t matter what denomination you are or whether you’re affiliated or not affiliated,” Goldstein said. “Shabbat belongs to the entire Jewish people. This was a Jewish unity project.”
By Barbara Lewis| Contributing Writer
For more information and registration, visit www.shabbosprojectmi.com or call the local office at (248) 583-2476, ext. 267.