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Keeping Shabbat in Antarctica

Sunset Antarctica

The Jewish day starts at night and finishes the next night. The question is, when exactly does the night begin? Does one day end at sunset and lead into the next, or does the new day begin only once the stars have come out – or perhaps at some point in between?

The Jewish Sabbath commences Friday at sunset and finishes Saturday at nightfall making roughly a twenty-five hour cycle. The Sabbath begins at sunset which is the earliest time we can recognize one day to have finished and the next day to have begun. The Sabbath ends, when the stars have come out because this is the latest point that we can say one day has ended and a new day has begun.

Before I left to Antarctica, I was concerned when would there be a sunset. It is often thought that during the summer in Antarctica, the sun does not set and during the winter the sun does not rise. This however is only true at the actual south pole and perhaps only for a short period of time. Outside of this, during the summer, the sun will dip below the horizon be it for a few minutes or hours etc. It may not get completely dark, but by the sun setting a new day is marked.

Some of The Rabbis of long ago, talk about lands where the sun does not set or rise for a period of time. They knew that such places existed and they debated over when the Sabbath would be observed. There are various opinions of what to do in these circumstances and a Rabbi should be consulted as what to do.

For me it was not an issue. Where we were Friday night there was a sunset. It was around 10.30pm and Shabbat was over at around 11.30pm. Because the boat was moving, I checked with the captain who was able to give the correct times depending on our given location at the moment.

One challenge was not being able to camp in Antarctica. There were thirty camping spots available and more than sixty people who wanted them. The camping spots were raffled off. I won a place and held on to it in hope that the camping excursion would not be on Friday or Saturday night. It ended up on Friday, so I gave away my place. The actual camping would not be an issue; the problem would be getting on to the boat on Saturday morning. According to Halacha it is permissible to be on a ship over Shabbat, but not to get on or off.

Perhaps on my next trip to Antarctica I’ll be able to camp.

Antarctica Iceberg


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The Shabbos Project Adelaide: Havdallah Concert

The Shabbos Project Adelaide: Havdallah Concert

The Shabbos Project in Adelaide capped off a great and inspirational weekend of activities with a havdallah ceremony and impressive concert by Rabbi Heilbrunn of Melbourne and the AHC’s own Rabbi Ben.  First was the communal havdallah ceremony, which was followed by singing by Rabbi Heilbrunn, whose operatic cantorial style reverberated throughout the hall.  Local Matthew generously joined in on the piano in accompaniment.  Then Rabbi Ben sang some traditional yiddish songs, which the older members of the congregation especially appreciated.  There was a break for refreshments prepared by Rebbetzin Rachel and her cheder girls.  Then the Jewish Adelaide Zionist Youth (JAZY) organization did a performance with group participation to show some of the adults the fun they are missing out on by not being young enough to join anymore!  Finally, a sing-along and kumzitz topped off the night… although, of course, some members lingered to schmooze afterwards!  All in all, it was an amazing and inspirational night.  Many members of the Adelaide Jewish community are already asking if we will do it again next year! So put it in your travel plans and we’ll see you then!

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The Shabbos Project Adelaide

The Shabbos Project Adelaide

The Adelaide Shabbos Project was an amazing success! After watching this video:

Rebbetzin Rachel was inspired to bring the Shabbos Project to Adelaide, South Australia.

With the help of the whole community, the Shabbos Project in Adelaide was a huge success!

Learning a new way to braid challah

Learning a new way to braid challah at the Adelaide Shabbos Project Great Big Challah Bake

Thursday night was a challah bake that brought together three spiritual leaders and women from all walks of life, from Israelis to first-time challah bakers. (Read more here!)

Friday night the ladies of the community joined with WIZO South Australia in a communal candle lighting ceremony.  This was followed by a kabbalat Shabbat service led by visiting Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn of Melbourne, whose booming voice led Adventuring Akiva to clap and dance in the aisles.

After the service was a communal dinner with preparation led by a long-time community stalwart.  With nearly 40 people in attendance, the Adelaide Jewish community was well-represented.  Ages ranged from under one to the 80s!  Food included a first course of dips and salmon mousse, a main of half a dozen salads and chicken, and dessert of sorbet and berries.  Rebbetzin Rachel introduced our visiting rabbi with some stirring words about Jewish unity and how to use technology to keep Torah better.  Rabbi Heilbrunn then gave an inspirational sermon about the importance and the power of Shabbat.

Saturday morning saw a popular service led by Rabbi Heilbrunn, followed by a community kiddush.  Then there was a delicious lunch of homemade hummus and tehini, spinach salad with heirloom tomatoes and balsamic vinegar pearls, tropical barbeque salmon, lasagna, and a selection of homemade sorbets, held at the rabbi’s house.

Congregants at the AHC enjoying refreshments during the havdallah concert

Congregants at the AHC enjoying refreshments during the havdallah concert

Finally, the Shabbos Project ended with maariv services and a havdallah ceremony.  Then there were mini-concerts given by Rabbi Heilbrunn and Rabbi Ben, a performance by the Jewish Adelaide Zionist Youth (JAZY), a sing-along and kumzitz, and refreshments prepared by Rebbetzin Rachel and the cheder girls.

All in all, the Shabbos Project Adelaide was a big success!  Visitors came all the way from Melbourne to participate and Jews from all walks of life, from the strictly observant to the strictly secular, came together in a display of Jewish unity.  Adelaide Jews are already asking Rebbetzin Rachel to begin organizing for next year!

Kol hakavod, Adelaide and the Shabbos Project!

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Parshas Noach: Shabbat – A Lifeboat for All of Us

Parshas Noach: Shabbat – A Lifeboat for All of Us

This weekend we will be participating in The Shabbos Project.  This is a grassroots attempt to get Jews worldwide to experience the magic of the Sabbath, just once.  Last year, it happened in South Africa, where almost every single Jew participated – even if they were not at all religious! That’s because you don’t have to be “religious” to participate in Shabbat.  Shabbat is not some sort of punishment, it is a gift, given by G-d to all Jews, religious or not.  There are some special aspects of Shabbat that have actually been studied and advocated for by scientists!  You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that having the whole family sit down for dinner together once a week is proven to be good for family unity, or that putting down phones, computers, and all other screens for a 24 hour period is great for improving relationships with your children and spouse.

In this week’s parsha, Noach was faced with a world of decadence and decay – sadly, not that much different from what we experience today.  We open our email and find obscene spam, we turn on the television and see scenes of murder, and we turn on the radio and hear foul language.  Shabbat is our chance to turn off all the garbage and focus on what is good and meaningful in our lives – our real-life, face-to-face relationships.  Just as Noach had to build an ark and G-d had to wash away the garbage that the world had become, so too we can build ourselves an ark in time and each and every week wash away the mundane so we have space to illuminate the spiritual.

This week, we have many opportunities to connect to this precious gift of Shabbat in a community setting.  Unlike Noach, we don’t have to go it alone on our arks. We can keep ittogether!  Women can join the Rebbetzin for a challah bake on Thursday night, one of the special mitzvot for ladies.  And everyone is welcome to join in the community celebrations of Shabbat over the weekend: community candle lighting on Friday night, followed by kabbalat Shabbat services and a delicious dinner at the Shul; Saturday morning services led by visiting Rabbi Heilbrunn from Melbourne, followed by a Kiddush and then community lunch at the Rabbi’s house; and finally, a havdallah ceremony, concert, JAZY performance, and kumzitz sing-along at the Shul.  Let’s build our ark and keep it – TOGETHER!

Shabbat shalom!

(To indicate participation in the Shabbos Project, please feel free to tag photos and videos of your involvement with #shabbosproject and #keepingittogether !)

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Camping on Shabbat a Book on, How to: Build an Eruv, Bake Bread, go to the Toilet, and More

Camping on Shabbat

A Practical Guide to Camping Over Shabbat.

Camping on Shabbat requires extra preparation and effort, but is not that difficult once you get the hang of it – and Shabbat can be a highly rewarding experience when spent in nature. This book will show you how to properly prepare so as to avoid any compromise on Shabbat observance, and enjoy the experience with full peace of mind.
Some of what you will find in this book:

> How to plan your sleeping, eating, washing, and toilet areas
> The basics of building an Eruv around a campsite
> Methods of baking bread in the outdoors
…And much more!

Available for purchase here


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Oneg Shabbat, Tish, and Farbi in Adelaide- Friday Night Spiritual Gathering

If anyone is around in Adelaide and would like to join us:

Friday Night Spiritual Gathering
Call it an Oneg Shabbat, a Tish, or a Farbi
Join us  for an evening of singing, words of Torah,
and inspirational stories.
When: First Friday night of the month from 9.00pm – midnight
Where: 10 Windsor Rd., Glenunga
Who: For men and boys

Refreshments served

“Oneg Shabbat, (Hebrew: “Joy of Sabbath”), informal Sabbath (or
Friday evening) gathering of Jews in a synagogue or private home to
express outwardly the happiness inherent in the Sabbath holiday. Now
more social than religious, the group entertains itself with music,
drama, community discussions, lectures, or the singing of religious
melodies—all in keeping with the biblical injunction, “and call the
Sabbath a delight” (Isaiah 58:13). Usually refreshments are provided to
complement the congenial atmosphere.   -Encyclopedia Britannica

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