Powering Down For Shabbat

Powering Down For Shabbat

Listen carefully this weekend and you may hear the ring-tone sound of BlackBerries, cell phones and other devices being turned off.

It’s part of the launch of a National Day of Unplugging that takes place this Shabbat, the project of a group of hip young Jewish artists and creative types who want to revive the concept of the Sabbath as a day of rest, but on their own terms.

It’s about “powering down a little, but not turning off all the lights,” they say.

Their Web site, www.sabbathmanifesto.org, even lists The Ten Principles, starting with Avoid Technology.

Among the other principles: connect with loved ones, nurture your health, get outside and avoid commerce.

The project began with a conversation between Jill Soloway, a Hollywood producer and writer, and Dan Rollman, creator of the Universal Record Data Base, both members of Reboot, a network of young professionals finding ways to revitalize Jewish traditions and rituals in ways that are meaningful to them.

They recognized that they and many of their peers had “lost the notion of the Sabbath,” said Tanya Schevitz of the Reboot communications staff.

A small group began creating a Web site and encouraging friends to unplug and slow down on the Sabbath by not checking e-mails, playing games with their children and turning off cell phones. (They even offer little sleeping bags for cell phones.)

The ongoing effort can be interpreted “any way you want to fit your life,” says Schevitz, and is being embraced as well by her non-Jewish friends.

Where could this all lead? Stay tuned — but not on the Sabbath.

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