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All you need to know about Shabbos Project

  • Shabbos Project 2014 logo
Find links to everything there is to know about this unique and incredible initiative of worldwide Jewry which saw over 5 000 women make challah under the stars during a cloudburst in Johannesburg last night, say the organisers. Read about the ton of sugar and other ingredients they used. Among the global participants were 5 000 in Buenos Aires; 4 900 in Miami, ,500 in Melbourne; 2 000 in Sydney; 1 000 in Cape Town; and 500 in Manhattan.
by ANT KATZ | Oct 24, 2014


Kneading it together, thousands participate in Challah Bake.

Tens of thousands of women were up to their elbows in flour as they "kneaded it together" at global Challah-baking events last night. These events kicked-off The Shabbos Project - a worldwide Jewish unity initiative that was born in South Africa last year, initiated by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. 

The project will see at least one million Jews observing the Sabbath together in full, from sunset tonight, until nightfall tomorrow. Many will be doing so for the first time.

Snapshot of numbers of women who attended some of the events:

  • Johannesburg: 5 000 
  • Buenos Aires: 5 000
  • Miami: 4 900 
  • Melbourne: 2 500 
  • Sydney: 2 000 
  • Cape Town: 1 000
  • Manhattan: 500

In Israel, no less than 300 Shabbos Project events are taking place this week.

5 000 Women brave Johannesburg shower

Over 5 000 women make challah under the stars in Johannesburg as part of global Shabbos Project initiative.

What goes into preparing a challah bake for thousands of women?

A year of anticipation, several months of preparing and planning and two full days of setting up, paved the way for the Johannesburg Great Challah Bake. Set in the open field of the majestic War Memorial in Saxonwold, under decorative lanterns and bunting, 5 000 women attended the challah bake. Despite an unforeseen thundershower, women donned their raincoats and gathered their family and friends for a night of blessings and baking. 

As the crowds gathered and waited for the rain to subside The Moshav Band performed an intimate set for the crowd of enthusiastic women. Children sat on the floor while women clapped and swayed to the spirit-lifting tunes.

Despite the inclement weather, over 3 000 attended. Each woman received a pre-packed bowl filled with all the necessary ingredients and equipment to prepare their challah dough: 1 250 litres of water, 1 ton of sugar, 70 kg of yeast, 10 tons of flour, 1 200 litres of oil, 10 000 eggs and 200 kg of salt were delivered to the venue, and set out neatly for each woman, along with plastic gloves, hand wipes and aprons.

Brollies were all up

Thousands of umbrellas decorated the venue, as women gathered to "knead it together", pray together and sing together. Chief Rabbi Goldstein welcomed the crowd, followed by a step-by-step challah-making demonstration by Robyn Smookler. The crowd then enjoyed a melodic performance by Breindy Klawansky, which was followed by a performance by international superstar, singer-songwriter Alex Clare, who took to the stage and sang his heart out while participants danced in the rain.

As the night drew to an end and the clouds blew over, groups of women began to sing and dance under the stars. The electric atmosphere was palpable, as these women came together to unite and inspire one another.

1 200 women attended a similar Challah Bake event at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town on Wednesday night, and similar events took place across the globe - from Mexico to Melbourne; Miami to Raanana. The events kicked-off the first-ever global  Shabbos Project, in which over a million Jews from all walks of life are expected to "keep one full Sabbath together".

Read all about Shabbos Project on SAJR

Shabbos Project 2014 logo

Shabbos Project 2014 Yeshiva

The massive challah bake at the Johannesburg War Memorial


  1. 2 Samuel Shalom 27 Oct
    The Road Ahead -- Goals and Questions!

    The Shabbos Project (TSP) of 2014 has now come and gone. Tens of thousands of people partook in this milestone global event. With heartfelt hopes and prayers that TSP will inspire people of all walks to become more Shabbos/Shabbat observant. Congratulations to Rabbbi Warren Goldstein (RWG) and his backers on achieving such an incredible success. TSP for 2015 is now in the works and it will no doubt build on this year's amazing success.

    Multitudes of organizations large and small and individuals famous or not joined in to make the 2014 international TSP a popular undertaking. But one organization in the United States has been noticeably NOT involved with TSP, and it's in fact an organization with the same aims, methods and mission of TSP. No, it is not Chabad-Lubavitch, even though Chabad has not thrown its full weight and lot in with TSP, they are far too independent and powerful for that, yet one can find that many individual Chabad centers and individual Chabad rabbis have joined in with TSP on a selective basis as part of localized events. So which is that obvious "elephant in the room" organizations that is glaringly missing from TSP? In North America it has been around for at least 25 years and has played a central role in trying to get people from all walks to learn about and enjoy Shabbat and much more.

    For anyone involved in the Jewish Outreach world over the past 25 years in North America and all over the world the question is surely being asked why NJOP: The National Jewish Outreach Program founded and still headed by the charismatic famous Kiruv personality Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald (REB) associated with Manhattan's famous Lincoln Square Synagogue has not joined nor promoted TSP? Why? What's going on? What happened? This is significant!

    NJOP has innovated a number of well-known programs and one of its most touted is its Shabbat Across America (SAA) also known as Shabbat Across Canada that NJOP connects with Shabbat Beginners Service; Guides to Shabbat At Home; Learn About Shabbat Services; and in fact in 2015 there will be not one but TWO competing Shabbat/Shabbos projects, one run by TSP out of South Africa in late 2015 and one by NJOP out of Manhattan in late 2015.

    This is what NJOP has to say about its 2015 program: "Shabbat Across America and Canada: On Friday night, March 13, 2015 hundreds of synagogues across the continent will take part in an historic national Jewish event to celebrate what unifies all Jews — Shabbat! Everyone is invited… singles, couples, families — all ages. 'Turn an ordinary Friday night into something extraordinary!' That’s the magic of Shabbat Across America and Shabbat Across Canada. By participating in this continent wide event, you will not only have the opportunity to experience Shabbat, but you will be sharing your experience with tens of thousands of Jews across North America. No matter what your affiliation or which Shabbat Across America or Shabbat Across Canada location you choose to attend, NJOP’s annual Shabbat program will give you a 'taste' of Shabbat. Explanatory services, traditional rituals, delicious meals and lively discussions are all important components of the Shabbat experience. as well as the opportunity to spend the evening with like-minded people, friends and family. Shabbat Across America or Shabbat Across Canada is for every Jew, and those who are unable to go to a registered location can participate in their own homes or in gatherings with friends/family. For help in creating a Shabbat evening, try one or all of the following resources provided by the NJOP. Unable to join one of our 450+ locations for Shabbat Across America? Recreate the spirit of Shabbat Across America and Canada at Home. Click here for more details. If you are a rabbi or synagogue lay leader and want to learn how to sign up your congregation for Shabbat Across America, click here. Sponsored by the Melohn Family in honor of Mrs. Martha Melohn 1-888-SHABBAT More Shabbat Information About Shabbat Spirituality at your Fingertips Guides."

    Close your eyes and listen to the PR and message you would think that you''re listening to a message from RWG and TSP -- BUT  YOU  ARE  NOT! The differences are staring at you, but they are subtle, and they may explain some of the distance that looks like a "COLD WAR" between two massive Jewish outreach programs SAA versus TSP to promote Shabbat/Shabbos observance -- SEEMINGLY  SIMILAR  BUT  SOMEHOW  STANDING  APART  FROM  EACH  OTHER!

    The first difference is in the name they call themselves, while REB's & NJOP's Shabbat Across America (SAA) is NEVER  "SHABBOS Across America" on the other hand RWG's is mainly "The SHABBOS Project" and when needed it can also be called "The SHABBAT Project" since "Shabbos" is associated with the older-style more traditional way of observance, meaning it is telling you that it's more "authentically" Orthodox and even MORE  HAREDI-friendly, and if need be TSP can also be the modern  Hebrew version of "Shabbat" as it's known to Israelis and many secular Jews and user friendly to anyone.

    On the other hand, there is a good reason why REB's & the NJOP's  SAA program NEVER calls itself "Shabbos" because of something so very radical it is downright religiously dangerous for serious Orthodox Jews! Namely, from its outset REB and NJOP and their sponsors were focused on creating a program that works in conjunction with the Reform and Conservative movements and any and all NON-Orthodox Jewish groups to promote and host its SAA program that was denounced years ago by the oldest rabbinical organization in America, The Agudas Harrabanim (Union of Orthodox Rabbis) of America (that had at one time been headed by the famous Rav Moshe Feinstein. Note, this organization is NOT the "OU (Orthodox Union)" Kashrut and youth organization.)

    Spearheaded by an American rabbi well-known in South Africa who had helped pioneer many Orthodox projects during the time he would frequently spend in South Africa, Rabbi David Hollander (1913–2009), was the prime mover of battle against the NJOP push to have combined programming for its SAA program and was the prime author of the following:

    In the Friday, March 7, 2003 edition of the well known The Jewish Press, page 19:



    In answer to many inquiries whether the Agudas Horabbonim approves of the 'Shabbat Across America/Canada' call to Jews to attend synagogues on Friday night, we hereby issue the following statement: As is well known, the Agudas Horabbonim issued a p'sak halacha years ago, under the authority of its President — the world-renowned Posek Hador, Hagaon Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt'l — and honorary President — Hagaon Harav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, zt'l — that one is not allowed to pray in a Reform or Conservative Temple, and if an Orthodox minyan cannot be organized, one should pray alone, even on Rosh Hashonah, and not hear Shofar, rather than attend a Reform or Conservative Temple.

    Therefore, in keeping with the above P'sak, the Agudas Harabonnim cannot approve of a call to attend a Reform or Conservative Temple on a Friday night, or any time. As important as Kiruv — bringing Jews closer to the synagogue — is, it must be carried out in accordance with the Halacha. Since the 'Shabbat Across America/Canada' does not state that the Synagogue must be Orthodox, clearly implying that it can also be a Reform or Conservative Temple, the Agudas Harabbonim strongly disapproves, and warns all Jews not to take part in the 'Shabbat Across America/Canada' program."

    This is a major reason why that in spite of sharing identical strategic objectives, of "selling" Shabbat/Shabbos to non-Orthodox Jews, YET they differ on the means. While the SAA program has eagerly aligned itself with Reform and Conservative and non-Orthodox bodies as allies to promote itself, on the other hand RWG's and TSP have avoided that pitfall for now. One cannot but conclude that this is the consequence of the SAA effectively turning its back on what should be its natural allies among the Orthodox Kiruv-outreach organizations who have now countered under the leadership of RWG and TSP that they too can succeed just as grandly as REB and the SAA program, even if it a took a "miracle" to take place in far-off South Africa 25 years later to figure out a successful rejoinder over time.

    Another key difference is that while REB and SAA are rooted in the world of American Modern Orthodoxy with REB being a rabbinic graduate of the Modern Orthodox Yeshiva University, on the other hand RWG and TSP are rooted in a more "right-wing" sector of the Yeshiva world of which Aish HaTorah is part and Aish HaTorah has been the biggest international partner, promoter and strategic ally of RWG to date. RWG is a product of the Yeshiva Gedola of South Africa that was headed by his mentor Rav Azriel Goldfein who was a product of the American Haredi Telshe Yeshiva of Cleveland, Ohio. Thus SAA "versus" TSP is reflected in the different rabbinic worlds and traditions that REB "versus" RWG grow out from.

    At this point, until such time that RWG and TSP make explicit what they intend to do, one can assume they do not intend to ally with REB and SAA. One must pray that RWG and TSP will NEVER ally themselves with ANY Non-Orthodox movements and synagogues or clergy in any way shape size or form otherwise what they are doing would become a mitzva haba'ah be'aveira (a mitzva that is achieved through sinning) or worse!!!

    From REB's and SAA's silence and seeming indifference to what is now happening around them as TSP floods the world with their very issue is alarming them to the point where they must wonder if their day has come and gone and now it will be TSP that will be the wave of the future.

    For now BOTH the SAA and TSP people are keeping quiet even though quite a few organizations are supposedly working with both, and no doubt many must be wondering how this will play itself out.

    That is why Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein would be well-advised to actively create an OFFICIAL international board of respected leading Orthodox rabbis that will help TSP and its participant bodies avoid the pitfalls of what happened to REB and the SAA program tainting it in the eyes of Kiruv rabbis and organizations rooted in the Yeshiva, Haredi and Hasidic world.
  2. 1 Mordechai 28 Oct
    great project. Now for S Africa's Jewry to move onto to the next project - Remove the Anti-Israel Desmond Tutu from his role as Patron of the S African Holocaust Foundation. To retain or to be oblivious of that man Tutu as Patron with the majority if not all Trustees being Jewish is an insult to the memory of six million Jews who were slaughtered and it is an insult to every citizen of the Jewish state of Israel. I call on the South African Jewish community to expend the same effort as they expended on the Shabbos Project to get sever all ties Tutu has th the Holocaust Foundation


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