Ahad Ha’am (Asher Ginsberg, poet and Zionist ideologue: 1856-1927) is quoted as saying, “More than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.”

This statement is part of the key to the great puzzle of our generation: How to keep Jews Jewish? Jews have survived exile and genocide, only to find that
assimilation and a lack of Jewish knowledge have become an even greater threat. The Talmud (Shabbat 10b) states that Shabbat was God’s precious and
guarded treasure, which was given to the Jews as a gift. It was His day of rest, and He shared it with the Jewish people. Shabbat was the day to be dedicated to building a relationship with the Divine, and reconnecting with the spiritual after a week of toiling in the physical world.

One of the greatest benefits of Shabbat has always been family and community. On Shabbat, people share “quality time” at home together with their family and can connect with each other, attend synagogue together, mingle with their neighbors, pray together and connect with each other.

As Jews began to assimilate and the world became more “savvy,” the idea of a day of rest fell out of favor. Either people were too busy with their work, too
busy with their play or too worried about being different or missing something. By abandoning Shabbat, people relinquished their precious connection to their
community (and to the Divine). And without a connection to their community, Jews increasingly disappeared from the Jewish radar.

This is the power of Shabbat Across America and Canada and this year, it will be celebrated as Shabbat Across America and Canada At Home – tonight, Friday night, March 5, 2021. It provides Jews from all backgrounds an opportunity to reconnect with their spirituality.

This Treat was originally posted on March 18, 2009.

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