In honor of tonight’s celebration of the 27th annual SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA, Jewish Treats proudly presents a history of this iconic Jewish event.

SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA was an evolutionary expansion and enhancement of the 1980 program at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, which was known as Turn Friday Night Into Shabbos (TFNIS). For many Jews, it was their first taste of Shabbat. For others, it was the first positive, joyous experience that they had in their Jewish lives.

In the mid-1980s, “TFNIS” was expanded and was embraced by congregations across the United States, and from 1987 through 1996, was coordinated nationally and internationally through NJOP. In 1997 the program was renamed SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA.

According to Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, NJOP’s founder and director, SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA is “probably the greatest ‘rescue mission’ ever mounted to Jews who are being lost to assimilation… Fortunately, the antidote to this dreaded affliction is at hand. The Al-mighty has given his children a great gift – it is called Shabbat.”

The initial SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA campaigns featured jingles on the radio, ads that appeared on buses, bus shelters, subway placards and billboards, and in publications such as Time, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, Sports illustrated and 20 major North American daily newspapers.

Over the years, NJOP has produced several videos to promote Shabbat, including “I’ve Got a Feeling” from 2010, with over 894,000 hits on YouTube, and another video produced in 2015. A CommUNITY SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA was later developed encouraging various institutions in the same city to run a joint program, as was SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA At Home for those who would prefer to enjoy the beauty of Shabbat from the comfort of their home.

Since its inception, 1,126,530 guests have attended SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA programs in thousands of synagogues of all denominations, college campuses, outreach centers, military bases, JCCs and Jewish Federations and, in Moishe Houses. It has been offered in all 50 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces, and in Israel, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand and Qatar.

Rabbi Buchwald proudly notes that there is no “non-holiday” that is on more Jewish calendars than the annual observance of SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA. That makes sense, given the importance of Jewish unity, identity and Shabbat. Join us!

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