By the time this post goes up on my blog, I will be “off the grid.” I’m unplugging tonight–I’m not going to text, use Twitter (except for automatic posts I’ve set ahead of time, such as the announcement of this blog), go on Facebook or the web, or check email. Ostensibly it’s because today is Shabbat–beginning at sunset–but there’s more to it than that. I’ve decided to give the principles of the Shabbat Manifesto an earnest try.

The Shabbat Manifesto was created by a group of Jewish artists who wanted to find a way to observe a day of rest amidst our busy, fast-paced, tech-saturated lives. Here’s the rationale as explained on their website:

Way back when, God said, “On the seventh day thou shalt rest.”  The meaning behind it was simple: Take a break. Call a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge.

Somewhere along the line, however, this mantra for living faded from modern consciousness. The idea of unplugging every seventh day now feels tragically close to impossible. Who has time to take time off? We need eight days a week to get tasks accomplished, not six.

The Sabbath Manifesto was developed in the same spirit as the Slow Movement, slow food, slow living, by a small group of artists, writers, filmmakers and media professionals who, while not particularly religious, felt a collective need to fight back against our increasingly fast-paced way of living. The idea is to take time off, deadlines and paperwork be damned.

In the Manifesto, we’ve adapted our ancestors’ rituals by carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and get with loved ones. The ten principles are to be observed one day per week, from sunset to sunset. We invite you to practice, challenge and/or help shape what we’re creating.

You can see the ten principles here.

If you like this idea–and you need not be Jewish to participate, obviously–there is a “National Day of Unplugging” scheduled for March 7-8. I think this is a great idea. As much as technology, fast-paced communications and social media enrich our lives, I think everybody needs to turn it off for a short while.

Shabbat Shalom. See you tomorrow evening!


The image of the Shabbat candles is by Flickr user Yaffa Phillips. It is used, and my modification of it is relicensed, under Creative Commons 2.0 license.