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A Candle Burns Bright

Mishpacha Contributors

When’s the last time 1 million Jews did anything together? The enormity of last week’s Shabbos Project happening wasn’t just that religious, once-a-year, lightly affiliated, and non-observing Jews sat around the same Shabbos table, sang the same Shabbos zemiros (with the aid of a booklet made available on the Shabbos Project website), and enjoyed sweet, satisfying divrei Torah alongside total strangers, but that any of this happened at all.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Rabbi Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa and the event’s impresario, has likely managed to get more Jews celebrating Shabbos at the same time than at any point in recent history, an achievement all the more admirable because many of the people participating in the Shabbos Project events had so little experience, if any, with an authentic Shabbos. In Belarus, hundreds of women came together to make challah last Thursday night in the Pinsk dining room of Rabbi Baruch Shofnos. With tears in her eyes, a 70-year-old woman explained that she had never made challah before. In Montreal, the chassidish community of Outremont opened its doors to its hipster neighbors, and in the process, two communities with seemingly so little in common shared a precious moment together. On the other side of the globe in Melbourne, men gathered for a pre-Shabbos herring and whiskey tasting (to sate the stomach before the neshamah) and women of every level of religious observance covered their hair with scarves alongside their frum sisters, and waved in the Shabbos Queen. In all, organizers say that no less than 1 million Jews in 460 cities and 64 countries baked challah, attended a Shabbos meal, davened at a shul, or attended a Havdalah concert. After a year of planning, Rabbi Goldstein said he felt “excited and grateful” with the results of this year’s events. “What’s been remarkable has been the depth and breadth of the Shabbos Project,” he said in an interview from South Africa. Though the numbers are impressive – 5,000 women at a single challah baking in Miami, 2,500 in Toronto, four hotels booked out in Mexico City accommodating those who wanted to be within walking distance of a shul – the Shabbos Project also touched people in smaller Jewish cities like Ottawa, Rotterdam, and Hong Kong. “No one could have imagined that we would have this level of response,” Rabbi Goldstein said. “You can see the power of Shabbos and its connection to Klal Yisrael, because it’s not a phenomenon that could be predicted in rational terms.” With the experiences still fresh, we asked participants from around the globe to give us a taste of their Shabboses. As you will discover, it was truly a moment of global unity for Klal Yisrael.


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