On Shabbat Parshat Chayei Sara (October 25, 2013) we witnessed an historical moment in Israel. Over 6,000 households participated in Beit Hillel’s country-wide initiative – Shabbat Yisraelit – that brought together religious and non-religious families for Friday night dinner. Government Ministers, members of Knesset, mayors, IDF commanders, musicians, as well as thousands of Israelis from over 50 different cities, participated in the initiative. Beit Hillel Executive Director Rav Ronen Neuwirth had the tremendous privilege to host Zev Bielsky, the mayor of Ra’anana and former chairman of the Jewish agency.
Shabbat Yisraelit represents the application of the two halachic rulings that Beit Hillel published over the past year; specifically about Shabbat invitations and the possibility of eating at the home of someone who does not observe Kashrut.
Shabbat Yisraelit received mass media coverage – interviews on TV and radio, print and online news articles, op-ed pieces, and social media outlets. For example, see the Jerusalem Post’s review ‘Religious-Secular’ Shabbat Attracts 6,000 Households.
We also produced an educational booklet specifically for Shabbat Yisraelit, which contains articles about Shabbat written by both observant and non-observant people. The printed edition was distributed in 110,000 copies across Israel. An electronic version of the booklet (Hebrew) can be downloaded: Shabbat Yisraelit Guide.
Shabbat Yisraelit created a big buzz, and was very well received by both the religious and non-religious communities. In response to the numerous requests of the non-observant guests to host the religious families, Beit Hillel will continue this initiative on Chanukah wherein the families will get together for a joint candle lighting ceremony.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out the special humorous video clip (a spoof of National Geographic) that we produced to promote the initiative – a clip that has already received close to 150,000 views.
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