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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776
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Shabbat: Reclaiming & Reinterpreting


Including discussion on:

  • Working on Shabbat

  1. Mar 2005 Digest 044

    Is it a violation of Shabbat to use the Internet to educate one's self during Shabbat? I know of some who do not use the Internet (or even a computer) during this "rest period," but it is one of the times that besides studying by reading or participating in a discussion, I browse the Internet.

  2. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    It is a violation of Shabbat to use a computer--assuming one follows all the laws of Shabbat. I do not.

    I too like to study Torah on Shabbos using the internet. It works for me. I also take a Shabbos nap, and faithfully chant Havdalah with my wife.


  3. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    If a person were shomer Shabbos (i.e. most observant of Shabbat) s(he) would not be writing or turning electrical appliances on or off--I'd be surprised if there were any exception for computers. I have never met a person who identified as Reform and was shomer Shabbos. The Conservative tradition has been that it's acceptable to drive on order to go to the synagogue on Shabbat--I'm guessing that studying Torah on the Internet might fall under that exemption. Me, I try not to do the kind of work I associate with my job over Shabbat, and I try not to do things that make me feel like I'm working--but I do write, knit, check e-mail, and watch TV. I spend much of my work week online, so surfing is less a part of my Shabbat.


  4. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    I do identify as a member of the Reform Movement, and am also shomeret Shabbat (and kashrut, and moving toward being shomer mitzvot in general). For me, the beauty of the Reform Movement lies in the power of education to change lives, and the power of lives to change the world. I know that the way I have chosen to practice Judaism makes me a minority in the Reform Movement (in fact, in my years at college, I have found my most comfortable religious social group to be observant Conservative Jews), but I am nonetheless proud to identify with the movement.


  5. Mar 2005 Digest 045

    …education is the key, for knowledge gives us the power of choice. It is incumbent upon each of us to remember that we stood at Sinai and that G-d spoke to all in a way that each of us could understand. We are responsible for understanding the obligations we accepted there and then interpreting those obligations in a way that makes meaning and connection for us. If a computer symbolizes work, then leaving it alone on Shabbat makes sense. If Instant Messaging with friends far away or studying Torah via Web sites brings you joy and a sense of special peace, then using a computer is very different for you. As long as we can respect the choices of others and not expect all to follow ours, then we will be able to live in the same "house."

    It isn't always easy, especially when one falls on the more observant end, to find a place in the Reform community. It is something, I think, worthy of serious conversation.


  6. Mar 2005 Digest 046

    [I also try not to do the kind of work I associate with my job over Shabbat, and I try not to do things that make me feel like I'm working.]

    …which, I guess, to me is the difference between Reform and let's say ultra-Orthodox. I too like another [poster] said do not subscribe to everything the Reform Movement says, and I certainly don't subscribe to everything the more Orthodox interpretations say, but my lifestyle fits into the Reform and maybe some Conservative thinking.

    I personally cannot equate turning on a computer with, let’s say, the prohibition of lighting a fire on Shabbat, spiritually or literally. I enjoy my computer and it isn't work to me.


  7. Dec 2006 Digest 196

    If you have ever tried to keep all the rules regarding Shabbat you would find it very difficult, but also rewarding. I am not suggested that Reform Judaism adopt strict Orthodox behavior in regards to this, but I do think we should promote more Shabbat options to people to make the day (and not just Friday night) more meaningful.

    Handling money--well I would draw the line at mall shopping--but having lunch with a friend and a movie to relax after Shabbat morning services--why not? Driving to a friend's house to deliver groceries and cheer them up--why not? I always put money in the tzedakah box on Shabbat--why not?

    Kosher--I know people who only keep kosher on Shabbat to enhance the experience--sounds okay to me.

    The point is, to re-work the do's and don'ts into something other than an onerous list so as to enhance our Shabbat experience and bring a community together.

  8. Dec 2006 Digest 196

    One way to celebrate Shabbat is to do something rewarding that you might not do during the week. It is an interpretation of Shabbat that I personally like and makes the holiday more meaningful. Not everyone gets that feeling from following strict halachic or rabbinic rules. Some do and that is great. Hence we have different denominations and different points of view in Judaism.
    66 families

  9. Dec 2006 Digest 196

    Remember, though, that the different movements aren't really based upon practice but upon philosophy and approach to the laws/traditions. For example, one can be fairly orthopractic and still be Reform, as Reform is all about personal study and choice, not about the specific things the person chooses.

  10. Dec 2006 Digest 196

    …We (in the Reform Movement) make such a point of not handling money on Shabbat that I wonder why that and so few other things? I mean--we won't handle the cash, but we'll write a note to ourselves to pay later, turn on the light so we can see enough to do it, play and listen to instruments in the sanctuary during Shabbat services, turn on the microphones, light matches for the candles well after sunset... and even drive to the synagogue to be there. What is it about money which has us suddenly concerned where other things do not?

  11. Dec 2006 Digest 198

    …We have never taken the line of "all or nothing." Many Reform Jews attend Friday night services but do not have any significant Shabbat observance on Saturday. While we might encourage them to explore ways of differentiating Saturday, I don't think it would ever occur to us to tell these Jews that it is all or nothing.

  12. March 2007 Digest 033

    At my temple, we've found that using the time during Sunday School is an excellent time to work on community projects and learning. School goes from nine to noon for our older students (grades 4 to 6; the building is fairly small). Our rabbi has offered many classes for adults during that time--Introductory Hebrew, Intermediate Hebrew, and a variety of classes on Jewish study in different subjects. An hour and a half is always saved for Torah study. (Currently, we've found it interesting to combine Intermediate Hebrew with the Torah study which goes from 9 to 11:30 when the rabbi then meets with the students.)

    During this time, we've also held knitting groups, reading groups, yoga and exercise, adult lectures, and other gatherings that help encourage community. For a time, someone picked up bagels and made coffee and tea so we had own "Cafe Chai" around which to gather and talk. Now we bring our own. Rather than the parents just bringing and picking the kids up from school, we use the time to encourage them to stay and take part in Jewish study and fun activities. Hopefully, and often, it does lead to greater attendance for services. Works for us.

    180 families

  13. March 2007 Digest 035

    How do we get Reform Jews to observe Shabbat beyond 7-9pm on Friday evening?

    There is no one answer. I believe we must continue to create programs that capture the imagination of our congregants and offer them on Saturday Morning. We need to think outside the box of a Shabbat Service. Our congregants want to be engaged and enlightened but they do not necessarily get that in a prayer service. If they are coming together as a community to study whether it be Torah or a book discussion on the latest Phillip Roth novel doesn't really matter. What matters is that they are involved with fellow Jews processing what has relevance to their lives today in a Jewish context. For those that get fulfillment from a traditional prayer oriented service we should continue to offer as much but in order to expand our reach. I believe we must find a way to coax the others to the table. If offering a program by the sisterhood on Shabbat Morning on Israeli dancing brings people together, allows them an aerobic workout (instead of heading to the gym) and familiarizes them with Hebrew what could be bad?

    First we need to bring people into our synagogues, make them feel connected to something food, music, intellectual thought, each other then we can attempt to connect them to G-d and prayer.

    1050+/- families

  14. April 2007 Digest 067
    A wonderful resource, Hinei Mah-Tov: "How Good It Is..." When Communities Come Together on Shabbat Morning …documents the Shabbat morning observances at nine congregations, their process for developing those observances and the impact it has had on the spiritual life of those who attend can be accessed at: []
    Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman
    Dept. of Worship, Music and Religious Living


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