Remember the Sabbath--Blog by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Submitted by mdangel1 on

A Jewish organization recently sent an invitation to an important event intended to combat hatred. The program was sponsored in cooperation with local Asian and Black community groups. The idea was: we all need to stand together to maintain a just and civil society.

Those who conceived of and organized this program deserve praise for their good intentions and hard work. But as I read the invitation to the event, my heart sank.

The event was scheduled for a Saturday morning! 

For the event organizers, Saturday was just…Saturday. It wasn’t Shabbat. It wasn’t the Jewish Sabbath. It wasn’t a holy day when Jews should find themselves at prayer in synagogues.

There was no embarrassment calling on Jews to attend the event even though this would entail disregarding Sabbath observance. 

If Jews don’t respect their Sabbath, how can we expect others to respect it? Wouldn’t it be nice if even the most secular Jews at least showed formal respect for the Jewish Sabbath? The issue goes beyond religious sensitivity; it’s really a matter of Jewish self-respect.  We wouldn’t want other groups to trample on and disregard our holy days; why would we do so ourselves?

Surely, the Jewish community should work cooperatively with all groups who stand against hatred and bigotry. Surely, we should welcome communal efforts to bring people together to foster mutual respect and understanding.

But we can do these things without undermining the sanctity of our Sabbath. 

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…”