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Plugging in on Shabbat

"For many people, Shabbat is the perfect time to 'unplug' from technology. But turning off my technology isn't something that resonates with me as a desirable way to celebrate Shabbat.

It all started during my first year as a rabbi. I took a pulpit halfway across the country from my family and friends. While I was enjoying my time there and meeting lots of new people, I was extremely lonely—but social media saved me. Through Facebook, Twitter, Google Chat, and Skype, I was able to stay virtually connected to my support system, and I didn't feel so alone, except for one day of the week—Shabbat. The day when I felt that I wanted my community around me the most, I was suddenly unplugged from them.

I didn't want to be 'unplugged' on Shabbat. I like the technology. It's not a burden to me, and it's not tiresome. It energizes me and makes me feel more connected to the world and the people around me.

Just as rabbi and theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel said, the purpose of Shabbat is to elevate time rather than things. To me, the holiness I find in elevating Shabbat lies in the time rather than the activities I engage in. It doesn't matter whether I use technology or not on Shabbat; it matters that I'm making choices to feel rested and refreshed." 
—Rabbi Elizabeth Wood, adapted from Why I Don't Unplug on Shabbat by Elizabeth Wood 

On My Sabbatical in Israel 

"The lines in the supermarkets can be long. One frustrated woman explained it is something she is still having trouble getting used to. Asked how long she had lived here, she replied, '60 years.'

The schools are incredibly nurturing and caring. They work hard to ensure my children feel included and teach them from where they are, even though we are coming in the middle of the year and staying only a short while.

When people say 15 minutes, plan for 90. When people say something will be done within the hour, you might want to specify to which hour they are referring.

Today, a bus driver honked at someone in the crosswalk rather than stopping to allow the person to cross. Yesterday, another bus driver made a special stop to allow elderly passengers to disembark right at the open air market, instead of making them walk the block and a half from the scheduled stop.

Everywhere we go, people are eager to assist usstopping in the street to see if we are lost, walking out of their way to show us the building we seek, deciphering special labels in the market so we can purchase products on sale.

On Fridays, people say 'Shabbat Shalom' on the street. There will be parades on Purim.

Every morning for six months we get to wake up in this 3,000-year-old city, the symbolic heart of our people. Life here sometimes makes you crazy, and sometimes overwhelms you with beauty, kindness, and tradition. What a blessing to experience it all." 
—Rabbi Jackie Mates-Muchin, adapted from The Realities of Living in Jerusalem by Rabbi Jackie Mates-Muchin