Shabbat of Love Day Offers Jews a Chance to Come Together as One

For Jewish people struggling to deal with the surge of a global surge of antisemitism and anti-Zionism—with more than 3,283 antisemitic incidents occurring, according to the Anti-Defamation League, in the three months after Hamas’s October 7 attacks —Shabbat brings a much-needed day of peace, a day of dignity, and a day for reconnecting not just with family and friends, but with the entire Jewish people.

That’s why Jewish Federations of North America are spearheading the Shabbat of Love on January 19th.

A far-reaching, North American event supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation, Shabbat of Love aims to embrace as many Jews as possible, including the vast numbers of North American Jews who have never celebrated Shabbat before and are seeking a way to connect with their Jewish identity. 

For a people still reeling from the traumas of these last three months, Shabbat brings a sorely needed day of peace, a day of dignity, and a day for reconnecting not just with family and friends, but with the entire Jewish people. 

“The day will bring together Jewish people of diverse backgrounds and affiliations to experience the sacredness of Shabbat and to center Jewish pride and joy,” said Sarah Eisenman, Chief Community and Jewish Life Officer. “They will be able to show the world how much Jews love each other, and how much they love being Jewish.” 

The Jewish Federations of North America have compiled a series of resources to help those hosting Shabbat dinner, including a Shabbat of Love Dinner Guide.

More than 50 Federations are organizing community engagement programs using microgrants, and nearly 15,000 people have already committed to participating in the Shabbat of Love. More than 200 organizations have signed on as partners to the effort, led by One Table and the Orthodox Union. Other partners include Hillel, Repair the World, BBYO, Momentum, PJ Library, and Federations around the country. 

To help spread the word, the Orthodox Union has put up two 30-second billboards in New York City’s Time Square. 

Participants will be encouraged to show love in all different ways—through volunteering, visiting the sick, and doing other acts of chesed (loving and kindness). Repair the World bridged the initiative with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which took place on Monday.

Finally, while much challah will be made across North America on Friday, none will be as large as the 34-foot challah being made by Strauss Bakery in Brooklyn, then transferred to David’s Bakery in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, where it will be baked in a tunnel oven before being moved to Congregation Rodeph Shalom on the Upper West Side late Thursday. It is set to break the Guinness Record for the world’s longest Challah. 

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