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Shabbos Goes Global

Esther Teichtal

The morning after South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein’s wildly successful Shabbos Project last year — in which a majority of South Africa’s 75,000 Jews kept Shabbos, many for the first time ever — he set his eyes on the entire world. Would it be possible for Jews across the globe to keep one Shabbos together? In a little over a month we’ll find out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It’s so profound, yet so glaringly obvious. Observant Jews have been keeping Shabbos since Har Sinai, and every frum Yid knows the Gemara (Shabbos 118b) that if the Jewish People were to keep two Shabbosim the world would experience Redemption. And who can forget that old MBD hit, “Just one Shabbos and we’ll all be freeeee…” Is it possible for the world’s Jewish community to keep one Shabbos together? South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein believes it is. When he launched the Shabbos Project this year — in which Jews across the globe will celebrate an authentic Shabbos on Parshas Noach of 5775 — he was inspired by the wildly successful local version of program, which galvanized the South African Jewish community on Parshas Lech Lecha of 2013. On that Shabbos last year, the majority of South Africa’s 75,000 Jews — from religious to unaffiliated — came together to mark the day from the eve of October 11 through the 12th. The campaign, the brainchild of Rabbi Goldstein and his wife Gina, used billboards, mass media advertising, and social media (which went viral) to rally the entire gamut of South African Jews. Now he has his sights on the entire world. So, is all of this a gimmick to bring Mashiach? “We’re not talking about playing games to bring Geulah,” Rabbi Goldstein says, explaining that there is something deeper happening. “What is geulah?” he asks. “Chazal teach us that geulah means transformation, and the mitzvah of Shabbos has a redemptive quality that is transformational. Of all the mitzvos, Shabbos has the power to transform Klal Yisrael — culturally, as a matter of identity, as a declaration of emunah, and as a gateway to a Torah way of life.” He adds that the ills of modern society have wrought a grave fragmentation of family and self, and that Shabbos has the particular power to help heal those fissures. “People have a deep need nowadays to connect to their family and their inner selves. People are searching for togetherness in a splintered world.”

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