For all its obvious gifts, modern technology has encumbered the way we talk to each other.
Social media creates more friends but fewer relationships; more connections but less communication.
Online, our daily interactions have expanded beyond all recognition. But they are routinely one-dimensional, perfunctory, superficial.
In many ways we are diminished by the digital din.
This is one of the modern maladies this weekend’s intriguing Shabbat UK initiative aims to address. On 24 and 25 October, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is urging Jewish people across Britain, irrespective of religious observance, to mark the day of rest in any way they wish – from twice-a-year shul-goers who view Shabbat as an unwelcome intrusion into their hectic lives, to those who treasure its presence from sunset to havdalah.
This weekend is about reintroducing a precious gift. It’s a rare chance to tune in to what’s truly important, with the background din turned down.
From The Great Challah Make at Allianz Park in Hendon, where more than 3,000 are set to get baking, to a Chicken Soup Kiddush at Kinloss and havdalah fireworks at Edgware United, more than 150 communities up and down the country will be holding an array of events for all ages. And it won’t just be us Brits revelling in the day of rest like never before this weekend.
It’s estimated that more than one million Jews will take part in the worldwide Shabbos Project, inspired by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein.
So why not commit to a digital detox this weekend?
Immerse yourself in Shabbat instead of social media and become reacquainted with a old friend you may have lost touch with – one that grants the gift of tranquility each and every weekend.
As Rabbi Malcolm Herman, Associate National Director of Seed, wrote in this newspaper last week: Outside the auditorium, one only sees the walls. But inside it, all you feel is the music. Shabbat UK offers an incredible opportunity to experience Shabbat for real. Who knows, you might even hear harmonies that you have never heard before.”
• Find out more at www.shabbatuk.org