The international Shabbat Project, now in its fifth year, will start with a Mega Challah Bake on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Chabad of Great Neck at 400 East Shore Rd.
To date, more than 1 million participants have contributed to the Shabbat Project, a unique, grassroots Jewish identity movement that unites all Jews to celebrate a full Shabbat together.
The idea first originated in South Africa, where the majority of the country’s diverse Jewish community joined together to observe a single Shabbat, most for the first time in their lives. This year, the event will take place on Oct. 26 and 27 in more than 212 cities and 33 countries around the globe.
In our community, observance of the Sabbath is practiced by Jews of all backgrounds and traditions, ranging from secular to Orthodox. Many who do not consider themselves “religious” attend or host a Friday night dinner including ritual blessings over candles, challah and wine for a joyful gathering—and delicious food.
On the other side of the spectrum are observant individuals who are Shomer Shabbos and observe the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. During this period, they engage in prayer, attend synagogue and refrain from driving, shopping and working. They also disconnect from technology and interact more closely with friends and neighbors with one-on-one conversations.
“At its core, Shabbat is a day of rest—a day of cessation of work. To play is to be free. For one day, forget about work and be yourself again. With no deadlines and no bottom line, you’ll be amazed at where the day takes you,” explains the Shabbat Project.
The message for this year’s event is Shalom, or peace, including mindfulness concepts to help the community, family and individuals. The Shabbat Project manifesto emphasizes unity of the Jewish community and peace all over the world, an especially timely message given the unrest and uncertainty in our complex world.
“Together, we will keep Shabbat from sundown to stars out,” Shabbat Project continues. “We will keep it in its entirety, in all of its halachic detail and splendor as it has been kept throughout the ages. Its rhythm will unite us with each other, with Jews around the world and throughout the ages. On this day, we will create a warm and loving space, holding our families together. On this day, we will lay down the burdens, distractions, demands and pressures of daily life. On this day, we will renew ourselves, emerging spiritually, emotionally and physically invigorated. On this day, we will own our precious heritage, wearing it as a badge of pride and honor. Together, we embark on this great adventure to rediscover our G-d-given gift of Shabbat.”
One of the featured speakers in Great Neck will be Charlene Aminoff. Many local Jewish organizations are sponsoring the program, including Great Neck Synagogue, Young Israel of Great Neck, Temple Israel and Temple Beth-El. Assal Rabizadeh of Great Neck is one of many organizers who is spreading the message, “The table is set. All are welcome. Come take your place.”
To purchase tickets or find out more about the challah bake (for ages 7 and up), visit www.greatneckshabbatproject.com. Volunteers for before the challah bake are also needed and can sign up on the website. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacqueline Harounian is a local family law attorney, frequent Great Neck Record contributor and member of the Temple Israel Board of Trustees.