The Sabbath Manifesto

Published: May 18th 2010
in Culture » Society

Sabbath Manifesto
Pic: Sabbath Manifesto

Eat bread. Drink wine. Light candles. Sound familiar? These three guidelines may resonate with any observant Jew on a Saturday night, but these three rules are also part of the newest online revolution: the Sabbath Manifesto.


Launched in March 2010, the Sabbath Manifesto is an online-based project that, paradoxically enough, encourages people to withdraw from technology. Bearing the slogan, “Slowing down lives since 2010,” it asks followers to take a day of rest from the digital world and engage in other activities.


The Sabbath Manifesto was founded by filmmakers, media professionals, artists and writers of the Reboot group. Reboot launched in 2003 as a non-profit organization that “aims to reinvent the cultures, traditions and rituals of Jewish life and make them relevant to a new generation.”


Tanya Schevitz, Reboot communications coordinator, says many members of Reboot are secular Jews who still wish to include the beliefs of Judaism in their lives in a different way. Thus, the Sabbath Manifesto was created. Of its recommended 10 principles, more than a few have been drawn from the traditional Jewish Shabbat, but Schevitz says the group is open to people of different religious backgrounds.


“Every week you will adopt one of the 10 principles in some way. It’s open to interpretation,” she says. “It is people of all denominations. This is not just for Jews.”


Dan Rollman, co-developer of the Sabbath Manifesto,says it aims to reconnect people outside of the technological realm. “There's clearly a social problem when we're interacting more with digital interfaces than our fellow human beings. Rich, engaging conversations are harder to come by than they were a few years ago,” he says on his website Universal Record Database. “We believe that everyone can benefit from a respite from the relentless technology. Unplugging on a weekly basis won't provide a magical solution to these issues, but it's a start.”


And the beginning for Sabbath Manifesto has been more than promising. Since its launch, the project has received extensive coverage from media outlets such as CNN, CBS and The New York Times. Katie Couric even recommended the idea on her news show. The website has received close to 20,000 hits in March and the project has gotten about 4,000 mentions on Twitter.


The Sabbath Manifesto has branched out to initiate successful events as well. According to Schevitz, thousands of people from all over the world participated in the group’s National Day of Unplugging on March 20th. Recently, the Sabbath Manifesto also started the Unplug Challenge where several high-profile personalities cut themselves off from any technological ties for 24 hours. Joel Stein of Time magazine recently participated and wrote a column about his experience. Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother has also completed his Unplug Challenge.


Related articles: (Society, Sabbath Manifesto, Shabbat, Josh Radnor)
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