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Shabbos Project spanning the globe

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Stories poured in from around the world in the aftermath of last month’s second international Shabbos Project, in which more than a million Jews in 918 cities and 84 countries, took part.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Nov 11, 2015

Pictured: South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein at the podium in Buenos Aires. Rabbi Daniel Oppenheimer, one of the senior rabbis of Buenos Aires who drove The Shabbos Project in that city, is pictured behind Rabbi Goldstein.

On October 23/24, a Shabbat was celebrated in 918 cities around the world. In Dallas and Düsseldorf, Addis Ababa and Antigua, Cancun and Cannes, Hong Kong and Har Nof, Karachi and the Karoo, New York and Nepal - and everywhere in between - Jews of every variety and persuasion participated in the Shabbos Project.

In the US alone, there were more than 400 participating cities, including Los Angeles where 3 000 people sat down to a Friday night Shabbat dinner billed as one of the biggest in history.

In Israel, where the initiative was launched at the Knesset, and where mayors and municipalites throughout the country actively drove events, 135 cities took part in Shabbos Project celebrations.

In the Jezreel Valley, the region’s five main settlements, including the Ramat David air force base, gathered together for unity Kabbalat Shabbat services and joint communal meals; Shabbos Project activities were held at, and Shabbat food parcels delivered to various IDF bases across the country; and thousands of Shabbat meals were arranged by various partners, including tens of thousands of scouts from the (secular) Hatzofim and (national religious) Bnei Akiva youth movements.

In the UK, where it was endorsed by Prime Minister David Cameron, it is believed that 100 000 people were involved in the Shabbos Project.

France, Belgium and Holland were also a hotbed of activity and in Eastern Europe, there were 26 participating cities in Russia, while towns in Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania that bustled with Jewish life before the Holocaust, enjoyed a reawakening.

In Melbourne, Australia, a “human chain” initiative saw Melbournians joining together to walk to synagogues across the city, picking up people at hundreds of stops along the way. And in Mexico City more than a third of the Jewish community took part in the Shabbos Project.

Elsewhere in Latin America, the Buenos Aires Challah Bake vied with the Johannesburg bake as the biggest of its kind worldwide (around 6 000 women), and almost all of the city’s shuls reported capacity turnouts.

Argentina’s capital city has been a particularly strong Shabbos Project partner for the past two years and the following week Chief Rabbi Goldstein was invited to speak at the Havdallah Concert (postponed due to national elections).

On a whistle-stop trip, the South African Chief Rabbi also visited local schools and met with key communal leaders. Over the Shabbat, he spoke at five different shuls with the aid of an interpreter, though - to the delight of the many thousands that attended the event - delivered his address at the concert in Spanish.

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