The Jewish people may be scattered around the world, but for one weekend every year, they come together to celebrate Shabbat.
Coordinated by The Shabbos Project, millions of Jews in more than 500 cities in 65 countries are expected to commemorate Shabbat, Judaism’s day of rest and seventh day of the week, during the weekend of Oct. 23-24.
“It’s a beautiful moment to get together and unplug,” said Rebbetzin Dini Polichenco, whose husband, Mendel Polichenco, serves as rabbi of Chabad of Carmel Valley. “Our lives are attached. Like an IV (intravenous therapy), we can’t survive without being plugged in. This is a moment to go back to our roots.”
The Shabbos Project, an effort to get the world’s Jews to celebrate one Shabbat together, was introduced in South Africa in 2013, went worldwide in 2014 and begins this year at sundown on Friday, Oct. 23.
Locally, San Diego Jews are participating in the occasion through Shabbat San Diego activities, which are set to take place throughout the county on the same weekend. More than 25,000 people are expected to participate in Shabbat San Diego, billed as the biggest event in San Diego Jewish community’s history.
“When people get together, the strength of unity is incredible,” Polichenco said. “We can do so much.”
In the weeks before Shabbat San Diego, a variety of Shabbat-related activities will be held, including cooking classes, Shabbat services, song sessions and more.
The weekend will kick off on Oct. 22 with “Mega Challah Bake,” where participants will learn to mix the ingredients of challah bread, braid dough and make their own bread to take home and bake.
Two events are slated for 6:30 p.m. at San Diego Jewish Academy in Carmel Valley and Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego. Registration is open at www.shabbatsandiego.org. Space is limited.
For the second year, Stacey Katz of Carmel Valley is co-chairing the Challah bake at San Diego Jewish Academy.
“It’s really fun,” said Katz, who has lived in the community for 15 years. “Last year was a super success. We had about 1,200 people in the first year, and this year, we’re hoping for 2,000 people.
“It’s a very special weekend,” she added. “It’s amazing seeing Jews all over showing unity as Jews.”
A number of hosted Shabbat dinners will be held after Friday services at participating congregations, community organizations and private homes. Celebrated with friends and family, Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing.
For people who prefer to participate in Shabbat dinners within the privacy of their home, Shabbat San Diego materials are available upon request and registration to help facilitate the Friday dinner.
Special services for Shabbat will be held at participating congregations Saturday morning, Oct. 24. There will also be study opportunities, guest lectures and organized events throughout the afternoon. In addition, many locations will provide a Seudah Shlishit, the third meal customarily eaten by Sabbath-observing Jews on Shabbat. Meals will take place around 5 p.m.
Finally, to celebrate the conclusion of the global Shabbat and begin the new week, a large ceremony called Havdalah will take begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Town and County Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley.
“We welcome everybody,” Polichenco said. “All you need is a heartbeat. Every person is welcome in our community.”
For more about Shabbat San Diego and to register for events, visit shabbatsandiego.org.