First Tidewater Shabbat Project to take place in Ghent

by | Oct 2, 2015 | What’s Happening

Saturday, Oct. 23—Saturday, Oct. 24

Jewish people will gather in hundreds of cities around the world for the second international Shabbat Project next month. The concept is simple: Jews of all walks of life, from across the spectrum—religious, secular and traditional; young and old, from all corners of the globe—uniting to experience one full Shabbat.

A global, grassroots movement that brings Jews together to keep one full halachic Shabbat the Shabbat Project initiative was introduced in South Africa in 2013. Nearly 75 percent of the country’s 75,000 Jews kept Shabbat in full, many for the first time.

In 2014, the idea of an international Shabbat Project was born. The global edition met with an astonishing response. An estimated one million Jews in 460 cities and 64 countries took part—not just in unique Shabbat programmes, but in city-wide pre-Shabbat Challah Bakes and post-Shabbat Havdallah concerts. People observed Shabbat in full for the first time in their lives.

“Even in our most optimistic moments, we could never have imagined the depth and breadth of the response,” says the project’s architect, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein. “It was thrilling and inspiring to witness Jews from across every conceivable divide—language, culture, ethnicity, geography, observance—viscerally embrace the Shabbat Project and make it their own.

“Ultimately, the Shabbat Project showed us new, glorious possibilities for what we as a people and as individuals can attain— that we can overcome the divisions of the past, reclaim our spiritual heritage, even become better people.

“The beauty of this is that it is so practical and manageable. After all, it’s only one Shabbat,” he says.

Locally, the Tidewater Shabbat Project will be based in Ghent and includes a committee with members from Ghent synagogues. The weekend kicks off with a Great Big Challah Bake at the Simon Family JCC (see page 29) on Thursday, Oct. 22. Shabbat will begin with a communal Shabbat dinner on Friday, Oct. 23 and include all day programing on Saturday, Oct. 24. Hosting in Ghent for anyone who does not live locally and would like to experience the full Shabbat Project is available.

To participate in the first ever Tidewater Shabbat Project, email and visit