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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776
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Observing Shabbat Worldwide to Protect Israel

Shabbat has kept the Jews throughout the generations.

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“Just as Shabbat has kept the Jews throughout the generations, Shabbat has also kept us.”  A 28-year-old man who left Chicago three years ago to make Israel his home, is, therefore, turning to Shabbat to unify those who wish to spiritually protect the Jewish nation.

In 2005, Yosef Meir Rabin served with Israel’s Defense Forces as part of the Machal, or Overseas Volunteer unit.  Now he’s an Israeli, an observant Jew and someone who takes to heart what he hears from his rabbis.

On Sunday, November 18,  Rabin joined thousands of others in Jerusalem at the kotel.  They were there to pray for the safety of Israel’s soldiers in their fight against Gaza terrorists in Operation Pillar of Defense.  In addition to other prayers, they said slichot, prayers typically recited as we approach the high Holy Days.  The prayer for the safety of Israel’s soldiers was also recited.

The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, encouraged everyone to keep Shabbat, especially at this time.  Rabin repeated Rabbi Amar’s words to The Jewish Press, “Shabbat is the greatest spiritual connection.”

The next day, Yosef kept playing over in his mind the words he had heard, and the special prayers that were said at the Kotel.  He decided to include those who weren’t able to join him, to amplify the powerful words spoken there, and to spiritually connect all lovers of Israel with a day focused on the safety of the Jewish nation’s citizens and soldiers.

Rabin took a simple idea and is sharing it with the world.  Or at least those on Facebook.  He created a Facebook page for a United Shabbat, on which he has asked people to commit to spending this Shabbat thinking about and praying for the safety of Israel. People are asked to refrain from all the 39 forbidden Shabbat activities, and to instead spend the 25 hour with friends and family eating, singing and praying for the welfare of the IDF and of our Jewish nation.  All non-Jewish supporters of Israel are invited to join in by praying for and thinking about the health and safety of Israel and the IDF.

Rabin told The Jewish Press that “just as the Jews have kept Shabbat throughout the generations, the Shabbat has also kept us. It is, as our Sages teach, ‘A source of Blessing.’  With this in mind, the 25 hours of Shabbat beginning on Friday, November 23 will be a Global United Shabbat.

A link is provided on the Worldwide Shabbat page so that folks anywhere in the world can find out where Shabbat begins in their location.  And the Hebrew language, transliteration and English translation of the prayers for the IDF are also on the page.

Rabin said he “hopes this United Shabbat will bring together the Jewish Nation and bring great spiritual protection to our endangered brothers and sisters, and of course our holy Soldiers who bravely stand guard on our nation and land.”

The page was launched on Monday, November 20, and several hundred people have already signed on.  Anyone who wants to join in should go to the Facebook page, “Worldwide Shabbat Observance for the Protection of Israeli Soldiers and Citizens.”  Of course it isn’t necessary to go to the Facebook page, but, as Rabin noted, “it will provide a sense of community and solidarity.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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