Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky of central Tel Aviv, who is the Director of Chabad Tel Aviv, told Arutz Sheva about Shabbat observance in the traditionally secular coastal city and how his organization is working to improve it from the air.
The rabbi began by talking about the massive cleanup and construction work this Saturday desecrating Shabbat following the demolition of the Ma'ariv Bridge last Friday, which came as part of the construction of Tel Aviv's new light rail system.
"You have to bring the light of Shabbes (Shabbat) to more and more people," he explained, calling for more explanations and outreach to Tel Aviv's youth, which if done properly can change the future of Tel Aviv for the better.
"Hundreds of thousands of families are becoming closer to Shabbat, if it's in Yafo, if it's Tel Aviv, if it's in north or south Tel Aviv," reported Rabbi Gerlitzky.
He noted that observance of the Shabbat day of rest is a fundamental facet of Jewish belief in G-d and His creation of the universe.
As for how to get more Jews to connect to the practice, the rabbi said political attempts to outlaw desecration of Shabbat have unfortunately not had much influence, and emphasized that education is key.
So how does Chabad get the word out in Tel Aviv about Shabbat?
They have found a very unique way in fact – Chabad sends out a parachute glider every Friday with a reminder about the day of rest and with the Shabbat candle lighting times listed on it to fly over the spanning beaches of the metropolis.
Rabbi Gerlitzky noted that the glider flies for about five hours on Friday, from Herzliya in the north all through Tel Aviv to Rishon Letzion.
The 50-meter long glider is in fact a resurrection of an old tradition in the city according to the rabbi, who said he had come across a picture from 1936 showing a man on a horse and wagon riding around and announcing the Shabbat lighting times.
The rabbi recalled on many visitors from abroad who came to the Chabad center and said they would have had no idea when the local Shabbat lighting time was if not for the glider.