The National Institute for Shabbat, Society and Economy, a social enterprise that operates within the Shearim Association, was launched at the President’s Residence at the beginning of the week.
As part of the event, President Isaac Herzog had a conversation with the institute’s founder and CEO Ruth Kabbesa-Abramzon; Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, MK Matan Kahana; former head of the Israeli police and Chairman of the Shearim Association Roni Alsheich; and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who currently heads the Public Council of the National Institute for Shabbat.
Kabbesa-Abramzon revealed new projects that the institute is working on, including an examination of the Israeli work week and looking at additional options so that Shabbat “will truly become the day of rest.” This initiative is run by former CEO of the Prime Minister’s Office Eyal Gabay.
The second initiative is “Green Shabbat” – turning Shabbat into the “national green day” in Israel via reduction of polluting activity during Shabbat. This project will be let by Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Yaakov Ariel and Chairman of the Israeli Climate Forum Dov Hanin.
The third initiative is headed by a team of senior Israelis who are trying to promote social gatherings and social cohesion during Shabbat. This team is led by former head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabbat.
During the conversation, Herzog said, “In my eyes, Shabbat is not a divisive factor as one tends to think. Shabbat is a unique platform that the Jewish people brought into the world through the Bible. It is a special day of rest that allows food for the soul.”
“It is our duty as a society to know each other, to get to know the beliefs, opinions, perceptions and religions,” Herzog added. “Everyone is equal in the State of Israel and only in this way can we become stronger and develop as a people and as a society.”
"In my eyes, Shabbat is not a divisive factor as one tends to think. Shabbat is a unique platform that the Jewish people brought into the world through the Bible."President Isaac Herzog
Kabbesa-Abramzon, said, “It’s time to reach the middle ground, and learn together about the social Jewish gospel that the Sabbath has brought to the entire world.”
She added that “together, we will make Shabbat a day of tolerance and connection between all. Instead of a rock of controversy – it will be the main branch, the connecting point that binds us together, the place where we tear down the walls and become one people.”
Alsheich said, “When I told the president about the institute, I saw the spark in his eyes. The President’s Residence is the most appropriate place to give an umbrella to the Institute. Shabbat brings peace between any person and his family, between the worker to the employer and between man and nature. We chose the house of peace – the house of the president.”
Kahana said, “The vision presented to me by Kabbesa-Abramzon met my perception of the Sabbath and the significant plans she laid out before me have the potential to realize the vision we all have in common. I hope that the institute will restore the Shabbat crown to its former glory and turn the Shabbat in Israel from a cause of controversy into another bedrock for our existence here.”
“I am a big believer in Shabbat, and I love this holy day,” Lieberman said. “I identify with the goal of the National Institution, which is to make Shabbat as a source for national unity in Israel. Our goal is not to bring more Israelis closer to Shabbat observance, but to connect more Israelis to Shabbat traditions and open the doors of Shabbat to them.”