By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks captured the beauty and essence of Shabbos when he described it as “the day we stand still and catch up with our blessings.” The mitzvah of Shabbos has the power to transform the Jewish world, to revolutionize KlalYisrael. This Shabbos, Jewish communities around the world are participating in the Shabbos Project, which from all indications could well eclipse last year’s event. Most indicative of the boom in the Shabbos Project is that its partner network has snowballed from 1,800 to over 5,000 volunteers who will be bringing this initiative to approximately 550 cities.
These partners are drawn from across the spectrum, including organizations, rabbis, communal leaders, and passionate individuals who have committed to bringing others on board and to coordinating events, whether the challah bakes and Havdallah concerts that are by now established elements of the Shabbos Project, or smaller, more intimate gatherings.
For the second consecutive year, Frum Divorce will be joining Jews the world over in support of this outstanding initiative. Members will celebrate the gift of Shabbos at a gala melavehmalkah to take place this motzaeiShabbos, October 24 at 10:00 p.m. at the home of their gracious hosts in Lawrence.
Featuring Rabbi Paysach Krohn as guest speaker, the event has already elicited an overwhelming response, with limited seating available. This event is intended for Frum Divorce members; individuals who are interested in attending must register online at www.frumdivorce.com. Location of the event venue will be provided upon request.
The Shabbos Project is the brainchild of Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa, who believes it is a stark reminder of the power of authentic, undiluted Torah to change the world–of its pressing relevance for all times and places.
“This is especially true of the mitzvah of Shabbos, which has been part of the very fabric of the universe from the beginning of Creation. Shabbos is the only mitzvah the Gemara (Beitzah 16a) calls a matanah–a gift. It is an incredible gift to KlalYisrael and if people experience its kedushah, beauty, and power in full–whatever their background may be–they are inspired.”
But for many divorced members of our community, Shabbos and yomtov is often the most difficult time of the week because the nuclear family has been rent asunder. It is precisely during this time that one’s divorced status becomes more apparent, making the situation extremely difficult for the parents and their children. For those who are not near family and friends, Shabbos can be the loneliest day of the week.
“We created Frum Divorce to heal the pain felt by parents and their children, in a strong community environment, through support groups, community lecturers, and popular events. We try to ensure that no Jewish child or parent is alone,” says Cantor Benny Rogosnitzky, a founder and board member of Frum Divorce. Cantor Rogosnitzky, who is chazzan of the prestigious Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan, discussed Frum Divorce’s mission of rendering succor and support to members of the Torah-observant community who are navigating the divorce process, with a specific focus on parenting and how to deal with the emotional fallout of separation and divorce.
“There are very few organizations that deal with the aftermath of divorce and how each member of the family is impacted,” he said. “Their lives–and the lives of their children–are never the same. The whole spirit of Shabbos is lost. We tagged on to the Shabbos Project because Shabbos is a time of spiritual rejuvenation, to anticipate and celebrate. Yet all too often, divorced men and women find themselves viewing the arrival of Shabbos or yomtov with a sense of dread. ‘Will I be spending another Shabbos or yomtov alone, without my children? If my children are spending Shabbos with me, whom will my daughters/sons sit with in shul? Who will invite us for Sukkos?’ And the questions go on.”
He adds, “Our goal is for everyone to celebrate the beauty and gift of Shabbos. The International Shabbos Project is a beautiful initiative–the global Jewish community ‘keeping it all together’ around a Shabbos table, reaching out to everyone. A sad or broken parent can’t be a good parent. They have to have the tools to be emotionally well enough to lead a Shabbos table, to be there for those kids. We need to make sure that even if their marriage didn’t work, they are still good people who love their children, and are responsible for raising them. Through our support system, programs, initiatives, and resources, Frum Divorce helps divorced parents and their children navigate their reality.”