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Rabbi Shapiro offered the congregation this Chanukah “gift” in the form of a message on Shabbat.

May I offer you a gift for Chanukah?

You may appreciate this gift if you ever feel your life is spinning as fast as a dreidel.  Compliments of all the electronic wonders surrounding us, it is almost impossible to turn off the world and constant contact.  

If you've every felt even slightly overwhelmed, I think you'll be interested in the topic of a conference call I attended yesterday.    The discussion was about something called The Second National Day of Unplugging scheduled for March 4-5, 2011.

Here’s the background:  Back in 2008, an ad hoc group of young Jewish professionals from New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco got together under the auspices of a think tank called Reboot.  They began to think about unconventional ways to bring Judaism and their very modern lives into synch.   One of their creations was something they called the Sabbath Manifesto.  The Manifesto proposed “rebooting” on a weekly basis with some of the following actions:  avoid technology, connect with loved ones, get outside, light candles, drink wine, and give back.

It sounds like Shabbat as you have often heard me describe it, but the Reboot creators chose the English words Sabbath and Manifesto in order to suggest that they wanted to think outside the box.  They were inviting anyone and everyone living a frantic life to consider the value of stepping outside the frenzy any way possible.

That is how the National Day of Unplugging emerged.  Thinking about how to “avoid technology,” the Reboot people came up with the idea of “unplugging.”  What if they could engage people with a one-day focus on the most prominent way in which our lives are being taken over?  What if they could encourage people to liberate themselves for at least one day from cell phones, smart phones, and computers?

Hence, the birth of last year’s unplugging event. which was celebrated with communal meals and learning events around the USA.  Hence, the plans for a second day of electronic liberation this coming March!

And that’s my gift for this Shabbat Chanukah.  Enjoy the candles tonight.  Breathe in the beauty of the menorah.  And think (dream?) about a Day of Unplugging.  What would it feel like?  What could it become? 

I’ll be in touch with more details in a few weeks.  If you want to learn more while enjoying Chanukah, try this link.

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Mark Shapiro,                  December 2010

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