Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Claim to Fame: Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

C. B. Lieber

The Shabbos Project has touched the lives of millions of people around the world, and it all began with one person and one plan

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

 Mishpacha image


R aise your hand if you’ve participated in the Shabbos Project, read about the Shabbos Project, or seen advertisements for the Shabbos Project. Anyone whose hand isn’t up yet? I didn’t think so! By now, the Shabbos Project has touched the lives of millions of people around the world, and it all began with one person and one plan. That person is Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein of South Africa, who graciously consented to share his time with Jr.’s readers in honor of this year’s third incredible worldwide Shabbos.

The Shabbos Project started in South Africa four years ago, in 2013. It went global the following year, reaching 465 cities in over 60 countries. “We worked with 1,800 partners, across eight languages,” says Chief Rabbi Goldstein, the enthusiasm obvious in his voice. “Thank G-d, it spread very, very fast.”

In 2015, the project reached 919 cities and 84 countries, and this year he assumes there will be even more.

The goal of the Shabbos Project is to show unaffiliated Jews the beauty of a real Shabbos for 25 hours — no phones, no Internet, no driving, just a pure connection to their Creator. Educational material is distributed around the world, communities come together to create a joyful Shabbos atmosphere, and frum families reach out to their irreligious coworkers and neighbors, with amazing results.

How does Chief Rabbi Goldstein feel about the project’s amazing success? “What I love about it is how so many Jews, from all different continents, participate in it. Even though so many things are different about us, what’s the same is that we’re all Jews. Shabbos belongs to all of us. We may pronounce it differently, some people say ‘Shabbos,’ some say ‘Shabbat,’ but it’s the same thing. Whether we’re Ashkenazic or Sephardic, South American or European, it makes no difference, we’re part of the same Am Yisrael, with the same Father in Heaven. That’s the bond between us.”


What, though, was the impetus behind the Shabbos Project?

“It started with a conversation I had with an Israeli professor living in America, Dan Ariely,” explains Chief Rabbi Goldstein. “He asked me, ‘What’s the most important mitzvah?’ I told him we can’t grade Hashem’s mitzvos, all the mitzvos are important, but he pushed me, so finally I said it was Shabbos. That’s the foundation of all.”

In the course of the conversation, Chief Rabbi Goldstein asked Professor Ariely how to encourage people to keep Shabbos properly. Based on Ariely’s suggestion of having people keep Shabbos two weeks in a row, Rabbi Goldstein and his wife hit upon the plan of starting with just one Shabbos, which they did, in South Africa in 2013. The Shabbos was such a success that Rabbi Goldstein began receiving e-mails from around the world from other communities that wanted to join in.

“First we thought to plan different Shabbosim for different communities, but then we decided no, we needed to do one Shabbos of unity,” Rabbi Goldstein says. And so the international Shabbos Project was launched, and it’s been picking up speed ever since.

Related Stories

Sew What?

Chavi Brody

Half a year after my sewing class, it was unthinkable for me to appear in shul or at a simchah in a ...

The Vote is Cast

Yisrael Rutman

You may be too young to vote, but this article will give you a glimpse of what US voters will be doi...

F is for Friendship: Fair Game

Ruchama Schnaidman

One of the most important things I learned was how to read my best friend’s face. But not her mind.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you