saa_logo.gifIf you’ve traveled public transportation in any major city (but especially in NYC), you may have seen advertising for the annual Shabbat Across America initiative, which encourages Jews everywhere to take a 24-hour period of R&R from Friday night through Saturday night. As you Jewlicious readers likely known, this is called “Shabbat.” As the subway ads have previously trumpeted, “Turn Friday Night Into Shabbat!” And many people do, to great and restorative effect. (Hundreds of Jews will turn next Friday night into Shabbat at the Jewlicious Festival, so we’re all over that hot Shabbat action here at Jewlicious.)

This year, Shabbat Across America goes 2.0, with the rebirth of the initiative as a social-network-savvy connector of Jews everywhere. It’s got a new slogan (“Sit Down and Shabbat Up!”) and a new, more inclusive attitude toward Shabbat, in its stricter and more liberal definitions:

On SAA 2.0, users gather around virtual Shabbat tables they create, and invite their friends–“chosen people,” as the site calls them–to share in the experience. Once invited, guests can choose to ‘bring’ virtual food items (chicken soup, challah, wine), political positions (liberal, right-wing), and social inclinations (green, grumpy) to the table. Unlike most social networking sites however, SAA 2.0 also encourages virtual Shabbat tables to ‘get real’ by taking their table offline and into reality. Sleek design paired with kitschy cultural references keep SAA 2.0 informal and inviting, doing away with seriousness that might turn off a young crowd.

Curious to learn more, maybe from someone you already know? OK…

“As young Jews in their 20s and 30s become more involved in social media sites, they seek modes of expressing their Jewish identity—and solidarity with other Jews—in the online space,” said Esther Kustanowitz, a writer and online media consultant, citing the proliferation of Jewish-related Facebook groups and widgets that encourage members to customize their online identities. “SAA 2.0 was designed to integrate with Generation Facebook, and represents a groundbreaking way to leverage the power of online social networking to inspire a reconnection with Jewish tradition.”

Yup, that’s me. I’m working with them as a consultant. (Complete press release is here.) I have to say, connecting with other Jews over Shabbat is an excellent way to expand your social and spiritual circles. And the kickoff for SAA2.0–March 7th–is only the beginning. With a social network, the site becomes a tool that’s useful far beyond any one Shabbat; use it to connect with Jews of all stripes and denominations, and even locations–use the Wandering Jew function to tell everyone where you are and what you’re looking for Shabbatwise.

So check out sign up to be one of the Chosen People, start your own virtual or real Shabbat tables, and start connecting to your weekend (and your community) Jewishly.

Want to see a sample “chosen person” and “virtual table”? Check out my profile.

And a Shabbat shalom to all!!

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see, and

1 Comment