This year, Buenos Aires reinforced its standing as one of the biggest Shabbat Project partner cities in the world. A team of around 200 volunteers began working on the Shabbat Project as early as March.
All of the city’s Jewish schools, shuls, communal organisations and sports centres were invited to join. Various Shabbat Project-themed activities were run throughout the year, including Shabbat cooking classes. There was also a giant Shabbat flag on which everyone could write or draw a message, while Shabbat Project toy globes were distributed in clubs and schools.
“From the beginning, we were inundated with calls and emails from people of all backgrounds and denominations looking for more info, and wanting to be involved,” says lead organiser, Jacqueline Levy.
Schools signed up, introducing campaigns to encourage families to keep Shabbat. Just about every Jewish organisation and synagogue followed suit.
On the Thursday prior to the big Shabbat, the Buenos Aires Challah Bake vied with the Johannesburg event as the biggest of its kind worldwide, with 6 000 women in attendance. Such was the volume that communities provided buses that brought thousands of women to the venue.
“The greatest thing was that participants came from all segments of the community,” Levy says. “There were old friends who had not seen each other for many years, many women who were making challot for the first time in their lives, people who had come from many miles away.”
Beunos Aires breaks records
With national elections scheduled for the same date as Beunos Aires Havdallah Concert, this passionate Shabbat Project city simply rescheduled for the following week.
Levy recalls how the following morning she was on a full subway with her son, when a woman sitting across from her, and busy on a call, began speaking animatedly about the Challah Bake.
“She was talking about the challot she made, and how amazing they came out in the oven. When she finished the call she looked at me and smiled, telling me that she had gone to the ‘most beautiful event’ the evening before, and describing it to me in detail. When she was finished, I informed her that I had organised the event.”
But the significance of the Challah Bake extended beyond the event itself.
“The Challah Bake was really the beginning of Shabbat,” explains Levy. “It was magical because it brought about a feeling of unity and the wish to experience Shabbat as never before in Argentina. Many women started looking forward to Shabbat from that very moment.”
Over Shabbat, countless programmes and special services took place across the city. Almost all of the shuls reported capacity turnouts. At 20 different locations, communal Shabbat dinners and lunches were held, many of them with hundreds of people in attendance. There were also numerous Jewish families hosting others not accustomed to experiencing Shabbat.
This is an excerpt from The Shabbos Project 2015 International Report. To read more about the Shabbat activities of more than 50 other cities worldwide during last year’s Shabbos Project, click here