The Shabbat Project is rebounding with worldwide celebrations

Arutz Sheva speaks to Shabbat Project founder Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein about the Shabbat Project's Shabbat experience on October 22-23.

Yoni Kempinski ,

הרב זאב גולדשטיין
הרב זאב גולדשטיין
ערוץ 7

After nearly two years of pandemic home-based Shabbat experiences, the Shabbat Project is back, with more than 1,500 cities in 109 countries participating in the program's in-person Shabbat experience on October 22-23.

In an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, the founder of the Shabbat Project, says that the “the community element of coming together was diminished last year, but this year it has rebounded all over the world.”

“The Shabbat Project is reflecting where the world is at because we’re starting to see recovery all around the world as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic. There is a sense of hope in the air and the Shabbat Project is reflecting that,” Rabbi Goldstein says.

According to Rabbi Goldstein, “there is an “optimism for the future.”

“The centerpiece of the Shabbat Project is a call to Jews all around the world to keep the Shabbat. To switch off phones and to have that real sense of connection and to walk and to connect with families and communities” along with “the celebration of Shabbat and the unity events that take place in all different parts of the globe.”

A major component of the Shabbat Project is “Jewish unity that says we need to put aside the labels that separate us and says Shabbat belongs to all of us and to say that Jewish unity is precious and special to each one of us.”

Starting in South Africa in 2013, the Shabbat Project grew exponentially from there to become a worldwide phenomenon.

“The reaction globally was such a sense of inspiration,” Rabbi Goldstein says. “A global movement sprung up from that.”

He adds: “What has always driven it is a natural affiliation for Shabbat. Shabbat has such an appealing message for our lives today. A sense of the quality of life that Shabbat brings. And also a real thirst for Jewish unity.”

The Shabbat Project, according to Rabbi Goldstein, is a combination of “Jewish unity,” the “magic of Shabbat” and the “concept of volunteering and a people’s movement that people want to be part of.”

“It has a natural energy,” he says.

Rabbi Goldstein explains that “a very important part of the Shabbat project has been the sense that keeping Shabbat is not a duty that is a burden. It’s a gift.”

“If there ever was a society that could understand what the gift of Shabbat is, it is our society,” he says. “I think there is a crisis in the world where the presence of electronics and the presence of social media and the internet is twenty-four seven and people need space from that and that’s where Shabbat means this amazing gift of 25 hours where we can actually live in the real world, not in the virtual world. Real people, real connections, real bonding.”

He adds: “Here is an opportunity to have the most incredible experience of 25 hours of true quality of life, a connection also to spirituality, to G-d, to ourselves, to our relationships. It’s absolutely the most incredible gift.”