The enduring Sabbath tradition
By Rabbi Baruch Lederman
SAN DIEGO — When we adhere to G-d’s commandments, we are a truly blessed nation, as the following true account illustrates:
Back in the mid nineties a Jewish advertising executive in New York came up with an idea. What if the New York Times – considered the world’s most prestigious newspaper – listed the weekly Shabbat candle lighting time each week. Sure someone would have to pay for the space. But imagine the Jewish awareness and pride that might result from such a prominent mention of the Jewish Shabbat each week.
He got in touch with a Jewish philanthropist and sold him on the idea. It cost almost two thousand dollars a week. But he did it. And for the next five years, each Friday, Jews around the world would see: ‘Jewish Women: Shabbat candle lighting time this Friday is ___’. Eventually the philanthropist had to cut back on a number of his projects. And in June 1999, the little Shabbat notice and stopped appearing in the Friday Times. From that week on it never appeared again.
Except once. On January 1, 2000, the NY Times ran a Millennium edition. It was a special issue that featured three front pages.
One had the news from January 1, 1900. The second was the actual news of the day, January 1, 2000. And then they had a third front page.
Projecting future events of January 1, 2100. This fictional page included things like a welcome to the fifty-first state: Cuba . As well as a discussion as to whether robots should be allowed to vote. And so on. And in addition to the fascinating articles, there was one more thing. Down on the bottom of the Year 2100 front page, was the candle lighting time in New York for January 1, 2100. Nobody paid for it. It was just put in by the Times. The production manager of the New York Times – an Irish Catholic – was asked about it. His answer was right on the mark. “We don’t know what will happen in the year 2100. It is impossible to predict the future. But of one thing you can be certain. That in the year 2100 Jewish women will be lighting Shabbos candles.
This non-Jewish production manager sensed a profound truth. Thus is the power of Jewish ritual. Thus is the eternity of our people.
Dedicated Lzecher Nishmas Shlomo ben Yitzchok by his son Simon.
Rabbi Lederman is spiritual leader of Congregation Kehillas Torah. He may be contacted at email@example.com
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