In honor of the global Shabbat Project movement this past weekend, 900 women from across the Atlanta area attended the Great Big Challah Bake Oct. 25 at the Marcus JCC. Not too far away, members of Congregation Beth Tefillah sponsored a weekend of learning, eating and prayer. A Friday night dinner attracted 275 and more than 300 attended a kiddush lunch. There were also guest speakers and a Havdalah service
The Shabbat Project is a global movement that brings Jews together from around the world to keep a single Shabbat together, regardless of religious denomination, political persuasion, age or lifestyle. Introduced in South Africa in 2013 by its Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, the Shabbat Project is an effort to display the power of Shabbat celebration in promoting Jewish unity.
This year’s participants were encouraged to follow the theme of “Stop Doing, Start Being,” and take the opportunity to devote time to being in the moment for one Shabbat.
“The reality is that in our modern age, as a result of the lives we live and lifestyle choices we make, we end up not having the time or the emotional space to devote attention to the things that really matter – personal growth, our families and relationships, our spiritual well-being,” said Goldstein, who is founder and director of the Shabbat Project.
“Shabbat gives us that time and that space, and the results of that can be truly transformative.”
While that Atlanta challah bake took place in Dunwoody, relatives of an AJT staffer from a thriving Jewish community in Bogotá, Colombia, shared the experience of a Great Big Challah Bake too.
At Beth Tefillah, the Jewish community participated in the international Shabbat Project.
“Together with Jewish communities worldwide, we joined in what has now become a global movement to celebrate Shabbat together as a community,” said Brian Gordon, chair of the Beth Tefillah Shabbat Project. “Since my wife and I are from South Africa, I felt excited to spearhead this project in my own community with the support of Rabbi Yossi New and a group of volunteers.”
Rabbi Karmi Ingber, of The Kehilla in Sandy Springs, led a Kabbalat Shabbat service with vibrant singing and dancing. Guest speaker Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, who has built a large community in Scottsdale, Ariz., and was previously Beth Tefillah youth director, captivated those present with his talk on “The new anti-Semitism,” a topic that later became painfully real with the news of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.
On Shabbat, the kiddush lunch was sponsored by community members and Jewish institutions including Atlanta Jewish Academy, Chaya Mushka Children’s House and The Weber School. Rabbi Allouche spoke about “The Jewish Soul and the Afterlife,” tackling a spiritual topic with passion and fervor.
His final talk was titled, ‘The Jewish perspective of love, marriage and relationships,” about the Jewish view on intimate relationships. As Shabbat neared an end, four middle school students addressed those gathered, showing the power of Jewish education and youth. Immediately following Shabbat, everyone’s worst fears were confirmed with the news of the Pittsburgh shooting. The Shabbat Project ended at Beth Tefillah with a Havdalah service at The Kehilla.