The New Sabbath Project Hits CIUT Airwaves – Sundays @2

New Sabbath Project on Radio – 89.5 FM Toronto
Listen at:
www.ciut.fm

A little while back Ken Stowar, the man who makes CIUT hum and of whom I’ve always been a fan, got in touch with me and asked me if I’d like to have a little corner of his radio station in which to putter around.

Now, I love radio but my work these days goes in a mighty different direction — as Executive Advisor to the President of Sheridan College. The job in post-secondary education has captured my imagination and really energized me and I wasn’t sure if there was much I wanted to talk about with folks on the radio.

But then I let it rumble around inside me for a while and along with
my partner Cortney Pasternak we decided that there were some things worth airing as it were. You see we do something called The New Sabbath Project. It’s our way of building community — one meal at a time. We do it on Friday nights and we invite all kinds of people to join us. Some are old friends, some we barely know and others we’ve never met — they just contacted us through our site and because of articles they read and asked to join. Dinner is a feast and our guests are expected to bring some food and drink along with them.

We begin our sabbath / shabbat celebration by gathering round the wine and cheese, dip our bread into homemade Hummous and slowly draw the curtain on our workaday lives and enter the architecture in time that is the 7th day. Some who come are secular, some are not. It doesn’t matter. When we sit to eat we light the candles as is the tradition I come from and say the blessing over them. Then we ask everyone to say a blessing over anything they like. I’m always amazed at how heart-felt and moving the simplest of blessings can be. Some mention God, most don’t. I’ve always thought I should do a show called “God or whatever.”

Anyways, after the blessings we raise our glasses, bless the wine, toast each other and break bread, literally. You see the Moroccan tradition that I grew up in meant that you took the Challah — the Sabbath, sweet egg bread and tore pieces off, dipped them lightly in salt to remind us of the bitterness and proximity of all that can enslave us and then the host throws the bread across the table starting from the oldest participant down to the youngest.

I’ve gotten pretty accurate over the years although occasionally it does end up in someone’s glass of water. After that we eat and drink and talk. The amazing thing is after we have done our blessings there is an intimacy
that seems to bring out the best in us; the passion; the sincerity; the big talk and soft hearts. For six days we do and for one day we are allowed to just be — with each other. This is what the 7th day brings, if you let it.

On the inaugural New Sabbath Project radio show, we’ll talk about the Sabbath as a day of reflection, an act of courage and, for those committed to — gasp — unplugging — an act of political and environmental resistance. Next week who knows? You may try tossing some bread around yourselves.

You can also listen at:
TuneIn Radio App
iTunes Radio (listed under campus radio)
StarChoice Satellite, Channel 826
Rogers Digital Cable, Channel 946
Bell Fibe TV, Channel 970

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Taking Rest on the Road

We took the New Sabbath Project on the road over the last two weeks — well not intentionally — it’s just that we took a long overdue family vacation/sabbatical — time to rest, rejuvenate and reflect. We went on a driving tour of our marvelous country out to the east coast. On that trip we inadvertently introduced a version of New Sabbath to old friends that have understandably (as non-Jews) have never been introduced to the idea – even the pluralistic kind that we do.

We brought the food and asked my friend who is a wonderful baker to attempt my challah recipe (see photo below – fantastic). While we didn’t want to introduce the blessings as it wasn’t our home and they weren’t Jewish — my challah baker ended up asking for a blessing given a recent string of unfortunate events in her life — so we decided to try out a milder version of what we do at home.

A friend’s first time challah — for hosting a first time New Sabbath Project

In doing some personal blessings around the table — an uncomfortable “consciousness” practice for those unaccustomed to such things — we decided to explain why we did these Friday night gatherings/feasts as a community-building excercise in the first place. In talking about how disconnected and disengaged we felt we were from our neighbours — our communities — that we felt these dinners helped us engage our communities on a deeper level — dialogue over dinner — with a spiritual and/or religious and/or cultural component that somehow deepened the conversations. We figured the disconnect we feel was a function of big city living — but our friends who live in both rural and smaller urban settings said this was a problem in their communities as well. Quite simply, no one feels like getting to know each other or if they do, they’re too intimidated to make the first move.

These last two weeks have certainly been an amazing time for rest, rejuvenation and reflection for my family and myself. A time to reconnect to family and friends and also to ideas that often get lost in the fog of extensive to-do and to-pay lists that await at home. It has reinforced the idea that people everywhere are craving closer connections to their communities and a little more sacred space to allow for their own rest, rejuvenation and reflection.

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