At time of uncertainty around the world, thousands of Jews in Essex County, N.J., participated in “Celebrate Shabbat @Home,” to pray for peace, blessing and light in a new initiative coordinated by Chabad of Livingston, N.J., and Friendship Circle.
By Faygie Holt
At time of uncertainty around the world and as a war rages overseas, thousands of Jews in Essex County, N.J., participated in “Celebrate Shabbat @Home,” on Friday evening, April 1, to pray for peace, blessing and light. This new initiative was being coordinated by Chabad of Livingston, N.J., and Friendship Circle.
More than 2,200 participants received a free Shabbat Box with everything needed to celebrate the Day of Rest, including Shabbat candles, kiddush (grape juice, wine and Kiddush cup), two loaves of challah, cards with step-by-step directions, and more.
“The Celebrate Shabbat @Home project is an opportunity to gather in your home with your family and, at the same time, join together with the entire community,” said Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum. “Shabbat candle-lighting and the recitation of kiddush are special times to pray for peace and harmony for the entire world.”
Celebrate Shabbat @Home was developed together with Livingston resident Eric Zoller, whose parents have always insisted that everyone in the family celebrate Shabbat together—with candle-lighting, kiddush and challah. It is a tradition that he and his family continue each week.
“I want to show my friends and the entire Jewish community how easy it is to celebrate your Judaism,” he said. “We live in a world of sound bites. People are distracted in their time and attention, and they cut out things that they think are most difficult to keep up with. But Judaism isn’t difficult. It’s unique to your being, and there are lots of different ways to express your Judaism and it doesn’t always need to be in a synagogue, it can be in your home.”
The build-up to this event created a buzz on social media through a collection of witty posts like “Not your bubby’s matzah ball soup, but she’d approve anyway.”
Livingston Shluchim, Rabbi Zalman and Toba Grossbaum, Rabbi Yisroel and Chavi Rosenblum, and Rabbi Levi and Esti Grossbaum, initially hoped to distribute 2,000 Shabbat kits, but due to the high demand hundreds of additional kits were assembled and distributed.
Shabbat @Home was inspired by the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who taught that even a little bit of light can dispel much darkness. The timing of Celebrate Shabbat is tied to the 120th anniversary of his birthday. The Rebbe’s actual birthday is the 11th of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar, which this year falls on Tuesday, April 12.
“At a time when the world faces the dark clouds of war and strife, it is important to add light and unity,” said Grossbaum. “In addition to sending support to the people of Ukraine and praying for their safety, we need to add mitzvot and acts of lovingkindness.”
Chabad shluchim in neighboring New Jersey communities, as well as area shuls, partnered in this program and encouraged congregants to celebrate Shabbat on April 1.
“Shabbat @Home” is the first of the “Judaism @Home” series that will focus on promoting the Rebbe’s 10-Point Mitzvah Campaign throughout the Rebbe’s 120th year and beyond.
More information on Celebrate Shabbat @Home can be found at www.CelebrateShabbat.com.