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Chief Rabbi of South Africa – Founder of the Shabbat Project – Launches Global Candlelighting Campaign to Bring in Light During First Shabbat Following Attacks

As the horror of last weekend’s attacks in Israel continue to unfold, Jewish communities around the world are rallying around the first Shabbat at war to show solidarity and support.
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October 13, 2023
Rebbetzin Gina Goldstein and her daughter Shayna welcoming Shabbat as they light the Shabbat Candles

As the horror of last weekend’s attacks in Israel continue to unfold, Jewish communities around the world are rallying around the first Shabbat at war to show solidarity and support.

“This is a spiritual war by those who seek to destroy Israel not because of its borders but because of what it stands for – the world’s only Jewish state. Our response must be to reaffirm our eternal Jewish values – the spiritual light of Shabbat,” said the Chief Rabbi in a statement. “Together with my wife, Gina, we offer you our personal prayer, to recite after you light your Shabbat candles this week.

Ten years ago, the Goldsteins introduced the Shabbat Project, an international grassroots movement that brings together Jews from all walks of life and all levels of observance to keep one Shabbat.

Along with Chief Rabbi Goldstein’s appeal to light candles, he released a special blessing composed for the occasion. It reads in part:

Protect and deliver the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and Security Forces, and all those engaged in saving lives, from all trouble and sorrow. Strengthen their hands and adorn them with the crown of Your salvation and victory. 

I plead with You, Merciful One, in Your vast Majesty, liberate our captives, speedily deliver them from anguish to relief, and return them home to life and peace. 

Shabbat is a core feature of Judaism, so making it a tentpole to rally support for Israel stands to reason. The emphasis on the day speaks to its character as a time not only to rest but to renew.

In Ezra Klein’s podcast episode “Sabbath and the Art of Rest” from earlier this year, he and writer Judith Shulevitz discuss the famous “Good Samaritan” study, which suggested that “ethics becomes a luxury as the speed of our daily life increases.”

Efforts to show support for Israel through Shabbat may stem from understanding this principle – that slowing down for candle-lighting or longer may help us retain our focus.

The flood of community-based efforts – donations, chartered supply flights with equipment, and rallies, vigils and prayer meetings – are still proliferating, and will need to for the foreseeable future.

The Chief Rabbi’s full candle lighting blessing is available online.

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