The World Unplugged With Sabbath 2.0

Reboot, the movement to unplug and observe a provisional day of rest, passed last week with flying colors and picked up more business adherents, from New York City to the Silicon Valley.

Organized by members of Reboot, their effort aims to galvanize businesses and reinvent Jewish traditions and cultures in a meaningful way for a new generation of Jews.

Did it work?

At the first ever Unplugging Party in Austin, Texas, more than 100 plugged-in people turned off their cell phones for an unplug-and-eat-together event at the South by Southwest Interactive festival on March 23 and 24. This was followed by a reading of Reboot’s Sabbath Manifesto principles.

This is the third year that Reboot has organized a high-tech time-out.

This unplugging can be especially agonizing for business people plugged into the ether 24 hours daily. On the other hand, it’s also liberating once unplugging is engaged.

People are meeting and talking again. They are enjoying time with family and friends. A slot is found for walking on a beach or sitting on a picnic bench and eating bread pudding.

Anne Wojcicki, CEO of a Silicon Valley firm that runs an online DNA-testing company, has taken the unplug pledge. She recommends the practice. She says it allows her to enjoy her family. “It’s nice to unplug,” she said.

Wojcicki, a member of the Reboot board, insisted that Silicon Valley is the ideal area for digital cleansing. Business people who are intensely plugged in find it refreshing to unplug and engage in real contact and relationships.

The Sabbath Manifesto is a project designed to apply the brakes on an ever-busy world. In a few words, the organizers are encouraging people to unplug from technology and reconnect with family, friends and the community.

Reboot, the promoters of the National Day of Unplugging 2012, asked people to turn off cell phones, stop e-mailing and texting and ignore Facebook and Twitter.

Reboot Executive Director Yoav Schlesinger said that the glowing screens take a toll on our ability to notch out time for family, friends, great food and interaction with our communities. Unplugging gives people that niche in time to gain a respite from the technological tsunami, he said.

That vacuum can then be filled with connecting with loved ones, improving health, enjoying the outside and giving to others.

The Reboot movement is not a new Malthusian movement where the gadgets of modern life are smashed and rejected. Rather, it’s based on Jewish traditions that embrace a day of rest.

A group of artists created the Sabbath Manifesto as a modern answer to observe a weekly day of rest. One goal is to reboot the rituals, culture and traditions of Judaism.

Reboot explains the movement as observing God’s entreaty to observe a seventh day of rest. In modern terms, that entreatment means take a break. Time-out. Get some balance. Recharge the batteries. Give that tired plug and outlet a rest.

The new Manifesto is an upgrade, so to speak, of the ancient ritual to relax, settle back and reacquaint oneself with family from sunset to sunset. Call it Sabbath 2.0.

This new twist of the ancient observance is still a work in progress. Few keywords exist. People should interpret the Sabbath Manifesto as they see fit. It’s more akin to tips rather than instructions.

Unplugging could mean not using the stove. Unplugging is turning off the cell phone. Unplugging is taking a nature walk with a friend. Unplugging is creating an island of time for oneself.

The testimonials of participants who unplug provide an insight into what unplugging means.

One participant who attended a Sabbath Manifesto picnic enjoyed a connection to the group while eating food and drinking beer, all brought into harmony by the conversations.

At an unplug event in Washington D.C., 200 guests participated in a musical Shabbat service, a happy hour and a community dinner. All 10 Sabbath Manifesto principles were incorporated into the event. They included:

1. Turning off cell phones.

2. Enjoying challah bread pudding.

3. Walking home.

The Sabbath Manifesto principles are explained in detail at myjewishlearning.com.

The movement has spread to Birthright Israel NEXT that urges Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni to host Shabbat meals. It has pledged to help cover the groceries and send a Shabbox to those who register.

For the fashionable unplugged business executive, a cell phone sleeping bag is available. It reminds everyone that the cell phone is unplugged and sleeping.

Filed Under: BusinessFeaturedJewish business News

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Menachem Greenfield About the Author: Menachem was previously a feature article writer for the Milwaukee Journal. He currently runs a small publishing business in Michigan focusing on books and magazines for the tourist industry. He is looking forward to writing for Jewocity and connecting with its readers. More about Menachem

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