Over a million Jews took part in the Shabbat Project last Friday night and Saturday, observing the Jewish sabbath in 924 cities located in 75 countries around the world.
As soon as the Shabbat ended on Friday night, the pictures and stories began flooding social media world wide, with numerous hashtags describing the event including: #challahbake; #shabbosproject; #greatbigchallahbake; #kneadingittogether; #havdalahconcert – but none was more compelling than #keepingittogether.
South Africa's Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein started the project locally in South Africa, and last October it spread to over 400 cities worldwide. This year the project aimed to reach Jews in over 500 cities around the world, but as noted it nearly doubled that objective.
This year the project included numerous memorable events, from a 3,000 person Friday night Shabbat dinner in Los Angeles, to a Great Big Challah Bake in Brooklyn where a 20-foot loaf made the Guinness Book of World Records, to a Shabbat Expo in Panama City and an intergenerational dance in Vienna.
Speaking about the project, Rabbi Goldstein said, "we are constantly pulled in different directions by distractions, demands and onerous responsibilities that pile up with increasing speed. We seldom get the chance to be truly present. In a world of fragmentation, Shabbat enters to offers us that chance to connect and unite as a community."
World famous singer Matisyahu got behind the project this year, as did actress Mayim Bialik and well-known rabbis and MKs.
"The response from around the world has been overwhelming and heart-warming, and shows the remarkable depth and reach of The Shabbat Project," said Rabbi Goldstein.
"There has been a great outpouring of joy and excitement, with so many people touched in deeply personal ways. Such a visceral reaction demonstrates that the ideas of Jewish unity and Shabbat are compelling to Jews from all walks of life."
"From the reports that are emerging, it’s clear that there has been a significant increase in participation this year – and I am confident this social movement will continue to expand as more and more people taste the magic of Shabbat and experience the beauty of Jews coming together in a spirit of unity," concluded the rabbi.