24 October 2015

TUNE OUT, TURN OFF, UNPLUG (TheShabbosProject 2015)

by Mel Alexenberg, The Times of Israel, Oct. 21, 2015
http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/tune-out-turn-ouff-unplug-the-shabbos-project-2015/ .

On Shabbat, October 23-24, 2015, more than a million people in 550 cities and 65 countries worldwide will participate in the Shabbat Project – an international movement that aims to unite Jews from across the globe in keeping one full Shabbat when they tune out, turn off, and unplug.

This creative venture uniting the Jewish People worldwide was initiated by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein three years ago.  It rapidly developed into a grassroots movement that spread across the globe with the help of the Internet and its social media.  “Shabbat is so needed, just to have one day for the family, a day which is an island of tranquility and peace and quiet,” Rabbi Goldstein explained.

(The photo here shows my wife Miriam pressing cloves into an etrog, one of the four species held together on Passover.  She is recycling it for use as the sweet fragrance required for the havdalah ceremony marking the end of Shabbat.)                

"Tune Out, Turn Off, Unplug" and “Shabbat as Ecology Day” are from my newest book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life that teaches how to create a blog that links your story to the biblical narrative.  It shows how to document with photographs and Torah Tweets your experiences during the six weekdays as they relate to the Torah portion read on Shabbat.

The third portion of Genesis, Lekh Lekha/Go for yourself, is read from the Torah scroll on The Shabbat Project 2015.  See how my wife Miriam and I linked this Torah portion to our life at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/genesis-3-paramaribo-and-brooklyn-to.html.  It is one of the 52 posts of the Torah Tweets blogart project that we created to celebrate our 52nd year of marriage.  During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted six photographs reflecting our life together with a text of tweets that relates the weekly Torah reading to our lives.  There is no seventh photograph since Shabbat precludes photographing. 

TUNE OUT, TURN OFF, UNPLUG (Epilogue from Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life)

Once a week tune out, turn off, and unplug. Put your cameras, computers, tablets, and smartphones to sleep. Just tune into God's creations, enjoy family and friends, walk in the forest and fields, watch the sunrise and sunset, play with your children, and make love to your spouse.

Adopt the formula instituted millennia ago to free the Israelites from their enslavement in Egypt to free you from the being enslaved by the ubiquitous digital technologies that too often rule all our waking hours. The fourth of the Ten Commandments enjoins us to remember what it was to be a slave who never had a break from the repetitive sameness of everyday life (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).


Make every seventh day Shabbat, different from the other six days of the week. Make it an Ecology Day by leaving the world the way we got it. Make it a Non-art Day when we honor God's creations rather than ours.

As the sun sets on Friday, my wife Miriam lights Shabbat candles, closes her eyes to her busy week, and blesses God as Is-Was-Will Be, sovereign of the universe, who bestows upon us a good and long life. On opening her eyes, she sees calming candle light ushering in a day qualitatively different from all the other digital days of the week. Until stars dot the sky Saturday night, she closes her eyes to digital dependence and keeps them opened to the simple miracles of being.

One day each week, stop doing, stop making, just enjoy being alive. Delight in all that happens around you. Don't seek out things to frame and shoot. Let them be.

Shabbat is a divine gift to all humanity for all time. You are invited to enjoy Shabbat as a powerful way to free you from being enslaved by technological wizardry.

On the eighth day, you can return with renewed energies to being God’s partner in continuing process of creation. Enjoy being immersed in the amazing technological wonders of our era knowing that you are free on the next Shabbat to tune out, turn off, and unplug.

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