Friday, March 1, 2019

The Most Popular non-Holiday Event on Jewish Calendars

Tonight is the 23rd annual Shabbat Across America and Canada. Jewish Treats is proud to present a history of NJOP’s SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA. Jewish Treats is one of NJOP’s popular social media platforms.

SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA originated in 1980 as a program at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan, and was then given the name Turn Friday Night Into Shabbos. 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 taken national across the United States, and from 1987 through 1996, was coordinated nationally and internationally through NJOP. In 1997 it 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 Almighty has given his children a great gift – it is called Shabbat.”

The initial SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA campaigns featured ads appearing 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 838,000 hits on YouTube, and another video produced in 2015. In 2016, as the U.S. presidential campaign season began, NJOP announced Rabbi Buchwald’s faux “presidential campaign”, representing the Shabbat Party. Four videos were produced in addition to a Huffington Post op-Ed explaining what the Shabbat party is, and its connection to SHABBAT ACROSS AMERICA AND CANADA. 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 unwilling or unable to attend the program at a local Jewish synagogue or Jewish organization.

Since its inception, 1,085,380 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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