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Shabbos Project gets wings - and flies

  • Hannah Arendt - FULL
Johannesburg remains the hub for this year’s Shabbos Project - which has now also acquired an international flavour - with Great Park Shul planning a massive street dinner, with Chabad of Savoy and Ohr Somayach joining in this momentous occasion.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Oct 22, 2014

Shabbos Project events were taking place in Jewish communities across South Africa this week, starting with an outdoor “Challah Bake” in Cape Town on Wednesday, and culminating in a large-scale concert in Gauteng this Saturday night.

Just about every synagogue in South Africa will be running Shabbos Project programmes and events, and it is expected that at least 75 per cent of South Africa's 75 000 Jews will participate in one way or another.

The Shabbos Project is a social movement developed by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. It was first introduced in South Africa in October last year. On the Shabbat over which it ran, around 75 per cent of South African Jews kept Shabbat in full, many for the first time in their lives. The Shabbos Project drew people together in ways never seen before and news of its success spread rapidly, inspiring thousands of people around the world to bring the movement to their own communities. And so, the idea of an international Shabbat Project - “One Shabbat celebrated and kept in full across the Jewish world, by the entire Jewish people, at the same time” -was born.

“The international Shabbat Project is an opportunity for the entire Jewish world to keep one complete Shabbat together - from Friday evening just before sunset on October 24, until Saturday night after the stars have come out, on October 25,” explains Chief Rabbi Goldstein. The international Shabbat Project is being described as "an experiment that has no precedent in modern Jewish history”. Final preparations saw the co-ordination by over 1 500 partners in over 320 cities and 35 countries.

West Street Shul in Johannesburg will be having a truly unique Shabbat and have themed the whole Shabbat around a wedding as Shabbat is compared to a bride.

There will be a cocktail reception in the garden 45 minutes before Shabbat with drinks and cocktails. For the bedecking, the shul has then committed to #SpreadingLight as part of the WIZO-initiated global communal candle-lighting. There will then be a chuppah in the garden for Kabbalat Shabbat where the chazzan will sing under the stars.

After shul on Shabbat morning there will be sheva brachot with shiurim and good food, making it a fantastic festive celebration.

Diane Wolfson writes from Pretoria that Monday evening saw WIZO Pretoria kick-start the Shabbos Project with a ”Dessert Demo”, taste and tea, under the topic "Sharing the sweetness of Shabbat" and #SpreadingLight.

WIZO Pretoria Chairman Elayne Ossip, welcomed everyone and spoke about Shabbat, followed by a short message from Pretoria's Rabbi Gidon Fox.

WIZO #SpreadingLight in countries around the world, such as Greece, Paraguay, Italy, Ecuador and Brazil. WIZO Frankfurt is holding a communal Shabbat dinner while WIZO India is holding a “Challah Bake” class, says Tamar Lazarus, president of WIZO South Africa.

WIZO will also be donating candles and matches with brachot in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

In aid of his brainchild, the Shabbos Project, Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein sent an e-mail to world-famous American singer Paula Abdul in the US, who is Jewish. Abdul had no hesitation pledging her support for this worthy project.

Actress Mayim Bialik and fashion designer Joyce Azria have also joined the list of high-profile Nobel Prizewinners, international sports stars, a US vice-presidential candidate and Jews of every nationality, ethnicity and level of observance who will be participating in the Shabbos Project.

Fifteen million people have visited the Shabbos Project website since January and today (October 24) an estimated one million people will be participating in the initiative.

Yesterday Thursday October 23, “The Great Johannesburg Challah Bake” took place from 18:30 to 20:30 at the War Memorial. Entertainment was provided by The Moshav Band/Alex Clare.

On Saturday evening, at 19:30, a Havdallah Concert will take place at Yeshiva College Campus in Glenhazel. The Moshav Band/Alex Clare will see to the entertainment.

From LA to London, Melbourne to Moscow, Buenos Aires to Berlin, Jerusalem to Johannesburg, Toronto to Tokyo, in every corner of the globe, people are joining the biggest global Jewish unity event the world has ever seen.

Rabbi Goldstein sums up: “Together, in cities around the world, let us bask in the joy and serenity of Shabbat, and tap into the unique energies and opportunities that it affords us. By experiencing the magic of Shabbat just once, this is our chance to rejuvenate family and community life, restore Jewish pride and identity, and build Jewish unity across the globe!”

1 Comment

  1. 1 Barbara Geer 23 Oct
    Wow I think it is an incredible feat and mazaltov to the Chief for this iniative. We really are an amazing community is SA and how so many countries have followed suit shows our strength!

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