Unplug Challenge


The Sabbath Manifesto can be practiced solo or in a group. You choose. Or experiment. Gather a few friends together, your family, your local bartender, give everyone a principle to interpret. Meet up. Share your interpretations. Do it again next week. Everyone takes a new principle. It’s that simple. Over time you can create your own new rituals.

Whatever you decide to do, we want to hear about it. Send us your stories.


Did you Unplug? Tell us what it was like:

  • Anna

    I have suddenly taken to the challenge of the sabbath – at least as far as technology goes – with gusto, and thus far I'm finding it a truly worthwhile and enriching experience.

    As someone who spends far too much time with my face buried in a laptop, or neurotically staring at my Blackberry to see if the red light flashes, the simple discipline of forcing myself to switch off for 25 hours was a revelation. I gained something imperceptible but amazingly calming – particularly in those first few hours of eerie quiet.

    I think one of the more difficult things about observing a secular sabbath is explaining to those around you what you're up to – I feel a little defensive about what I'm doing, as if it's something special that's just for me, so I don't necessarily want to tell people about it. Unfortunately, though, last Saturday that led to my parents calling my flatmate to ask if I was alright since they'd been trying to phone me.

    My sabbaths have been quite a solitary experience, since my flatmate works at weekends and I don't live in easy walking distance of people to visit. But I think that the time spent mostly in my own company is a useful experiment to bring about comfort in my own skin.

    One of the things I've noticed about this endeavour is how it's made me more sensitive to the passing of the day. Because I'm less aware of the actual time, I've found I'm more aware of the way the light changes, particularly in the twilight at the beginning and end of my day of rest.

    As a Londoner, too, it's rather nice to have a real reason not to be doing more energetic things on a Saturday – which tends to be crowded and exhausting at the best of times. Instead, I'm at home, reading voraciously or else taking a more leisurely approach to meals. Rather than wolfing something down while facebooking and watching old Seinfeld episodes, I'm taking the time to actually taste what I'm eating.

    I'm cautious about enthusing too much over what I've learnt so far from this, since I have a strong yet quiet desire to continue it. I always felt vaguely oppressed and irritated by the remaining influence of Sundays on the working week, but doing a technological sabbath for myself has been far more meaningful and humbling.

  • Ginny133

    This whole concept is pregnant with creative possibility…and I suspect that is the point! Thank You for the reminders.

  • Steven K. Steinberg

    The idea of unplugging, including the electronic Sabbath was proposed some time ago in an excellent book called Hamlet's Blackberry. The author, William Powers, created it for his family as a way to reconnect with one another by disconnecting from the internet. His was not a “religious” experience, but I think it definitely promotes a more spiritual way of living today.
    I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in the implications of our plugged in world.
    Steven Steinberg

  • DougGroothuis

    I am a Christian gentile who has tried to observe a Sunday sabbath for thirty years. I will promote your special sabbath as well. Best, Doug Groothuis

  • http://www.tommorsebrown.com Tom Morse-Brown

    I undertook my first Sabbath Manifesto yesterday. I have a high value for personal prayer but being a graphic design student it’s not easy to keep up that regular time. A few weeks ago I noticed how my cell phone and laptop begin impinging on my quiet time. I banned them both from my bedroom. They tried to get back in (at least the cell phone did anyway). Then this last week on Friday I was truly fried. I hadn’t had any time for myself or worse, time away from these machines and screens, the TV and dance music pounding in my ears. My degree thesis project asks the question, “how can graphic design get people to take time out for themselves?” My head was bursting and I couldn’t even think creatively about that. That’s when I decided to do a Sabbath Manifesto day. At 12 midnight on Friday I turned everything off. Even that was liberating. I woke on Saturday morning with a peace in my heart, knowing I was free from the digital demands, the voices coming down the line and the screens seeking my attention. My bedroom was peaceful. I spent the day sleeping, resting, reading, doing practical things like cleaning and fixing a wobbly shelf. There is still a lot of snow on the ground so it wasn’t easy to be outside. I even lay on the floor doing nothing for thirty minutes. It was so freeing. By the end of the day I felt my creativity come back. My sense of self returning.

  • meirav

    I really enjoyed this last year. Unfortunately, I did not keep up with the unplugging. The one thing that I remember was that I really looked forward to that particular Shabbat the way I look forward to vacation. It was wonderful, and I’m looking forward to it again.

  • jmgator

    Read Katie Couric’s comments that ironically, you have to be plugged in to find out about this event. That may be true, but I don’t think it is ironic. You are not asking people to totally unplug forever. Just to realize that it is good to rest from all of the technology and stressors that are inundating modern life.

  • EdibleTorah

    Over here at EdibleTorah HQ we’ll be unplugging this week the same as we do every week. However I blogged about it to get the word out and offered a few opinions on ways to make the experience about more than just a technology detox:


  • Danielle Sundstrom

    COEJL is in full support of Reboot’s Sabbath Manifesto “Unplug Challenge.” We encourage those interested to “unplug” for the 24 hours starting at sundown on Friday, March 4 and ending at sundown on Saturday, March 5. You can participate in a variety of ways, from neglecting such electronic personal items as cell phones, computers, and televisions, to relinquishing the use of your stoves, elevators, and cars.
    COEJL feels strongly about the connection of the “Unplug Challenge” to Jewish environmentalism. We like to think of Shabbat as an environmental holiday- one which promotes conservation, resting, spending time outdoors, and one which allows you to connect to your friends, family and peers on an intimate level.
    Tune in to http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/community on the night of March 5 to find out how COEJL fellow, Danielle Sundstrom, experienced her first Unplug Challenge with Sabbath Manifesto.

  • Marianne L. LMHC

    Although I need to finish my assignments for my Art and Psychology class in my Masters program, I’m committed tonight to read my text by candlelight (and plenty of them), and write my paper in a notebook by hand. I hope to relish in this experience and will encourage everyone in my circle to do the same.

  • Barbara

    There is hope for the planet if this goes viral. Everyone hush up and be still with the holy however they define it. No doctrine or dogma…just simple togetherness, building trust in “the other,” no fear. Congratulations on making this happen.

  • Jenny

    Yes! It was wonderful! I read books to my girls, we listened to music and danced, and we spent time with Grandma. I didn’t miss my technology at all!

  • http://sirknightnash.webs.com Mensch Nash

    24 hours unplugged. Looked at phone but didn’t use only 2 times (for the time), drank some wine, lit a candle, avoided technology, connected with my children, avoided commerce (drove once at about 22hour mark), ate bread, found lots of silence. Let’s do it again next Sabbath.

  • http://fylvia.wordpress.com Fylvia

    My National Unplugging Day made me realize that I can be plugged and yet being unplugged. Here’s the account of my discovery.

    6:30 pm Dinner with the family. Everything was fixed ahead of time so I just had to turn on the oven. Black bean burritos were yummy. So was the chocolate orange bundt cake. Got the recipe here.

    8:00 pm An hour in the hot tub with the family. Beautiful starry night. Quiet.

    9:30 pm. Crawled into bed with a good book. I read TrueFaced. Felt spiritually charged. Did not miss my laptop. I guess it was because I would have used to to just read anyway. Have to admit I was tempted to get on Facebook and see what was going on and tweet about my unplugged Sabbath. But I was good.

    12:00 am. Fell asleep.

    8:30 am. Cat woke me up. Sipped some ginger tea while I read Psalm 1-10 in The Message. Felt compelled to write about my thoughts on the David’s open and honest relation with God. Took me 30 minutes to find paper and pen which I abandoned decades ago when I got my first laptop. Pen finally in hand, I discovered I can no longer write fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Frustrated, I lost my thoughts before I could get them on paper.

    11:30 am. At church–without my iPhone. But then there was a reference during the sermon that I wanted to read in context. Unfortunately the book he was referring to was on my phone which I didn’t have. Was frustrated. Again.

    1:00 pm. My son and I fixed lunch together. It’s our usual Sabbath ritual that I look forward to every week. Same menu. Same routine. And only on the Sabbath. Felt warm and fuzzy. (Chicken curry, coconut rice, vegetable stir fry, chocolate cup cakes)

    3:00 pm. I had planned on talking a walk with my husband–Not that I enjoy walking or nature, but I thought it would be a good way to totally immerse in the unplugging experience. But then, it was raining (yay), so I sat down instead to evaluate my unplugging experience:

    –Realized that while there is nothing wrong with friendly chatter and postings, Facebook and Twitter were not uniquely spiritually uplifting. So I have decided that they shall not be part of my Sabbath anymore. Maybe if my daughter (who is away at college) were a Facebook user, I’d feel differently about using it to communicate with her. But she’s not and I feel that everything I usually say and read on Facebook during the Sabbath hours can wait a day.

    –Realized that I need my laptop and my iPhone on the Sabbath to be plugged in spiritually. My personal devotion needs my fingers on a keyboard. My time in church is enhanced with the apps I use–the different versions of the Bible, my concordance, EGW writings, etc. However, I know that in order to truly experience respite and renewal, I need to exercise self-control and limit the use of my gadgets as tools to enhance my Sabbaths.

    –Understood that being unplugged–to me, at least–is not limited to turning off my gadgets. It has to be about turning off everything in my life that makes the rest of the week crazy. On the Sabbath Day I need to unplug and replug myself into that which bring me peace, joy and contentment–my God and my family. This means, on the Sabbath Day I need to be unplugged from more than gadgets that confine me to busyness; I need to unplug from:

    –worrying about my bills
    –thinking about the deadlines coming up on Monday
    –doing stuff around the house that can wait
    –committing to things in the community that take me away from family
    –trivial and nonsensical chatter that take away from the Day’s specialness
    –the secular minutia that find a way to creep into my spiritual calm

    4:00 pm. I plugged in to get unplugged–I turned on my laptop and let my fingers go at the keyboard in wild excitement about a Day well spent.

    4:30 pm. Took a nap.

    6:00 pm. Woke up feeling refreshed to start another week.

    Yay for the Sabbath Manifesto. My prayer is that every week there are more and more who experience this day as God meant it to be.

  • Cazzy

    YES!! YES!! Love it. My husband and I own our own technology business and without a day of unplugging every week, we’d be dead. We are not Jewish either, we are Christians, but every religious belief has a “sabbath” concept… and every human needs some down time… Love the principles… love the message… highly recommend it to all… it is a little piece of “heaven” in our lives…

  • http://twitter.com/Joan_W Joan_W

    I heard about it too late to spend the whole day unplugged, but I did manage to spend a couple of hours in the woods. 🙂

  • Mitch Cohen

    This is great. One of my favorite times of the week is around 4pm on Friday afternoon when I turn off my computer and cell phone. I do not look at them or touch them for the next 26 hours. In this generation this is not just a religious imperative but rather a sanity imperative!

    Mitch Cohen

  • http://twitter.com/JHAfrica JewishHeartforAfrica

    We at Jewish Heart for Africa love to unplug. But we also find ourselves thinking constantly of the 1.6 billion people–one quarter of humanity–who live unplugged year round.

    Jewish Heart for Africa (www.jhafrica.org) brings sustainable Israeli technologies to rural African villages. We use solar systems from Israel to power rural African schools, medical clinics and water pumps. Our solar powered projects provide light in schools for evening study and computer use; for nighttime emergency medical care; for refrigeration of lifesaving medicines vaccines and for pumping clean water in regions of drought. Since our founding in 2008, we have brought solar energy to over 150,000 people.

    When we unplug, we see it as a luxury. We have so much to unplug from.

    We’ve decided to become part of the Sabbath Manifesto, to use it as an opportunity to reflect on what it might mean not to be plugged in–to live life off the grid. We encourage our supporters to do the same.

    We hope you’ll join us and share your stories. Be in touch at http://www.facebook.com/jhafrica and @jhafrica.

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  • http://twitter.com/WolfDreamer1112 Jason Lilly

    Spent this past Sunday away from my laptop and television and only answered my phone if someone called or texted me (baby steps).  I went to church for the first time in months, attended a Shakespeare play, and spent some time by the river.  I even found time to meditate and pray.  At the end of the day, I felt liberated and more rested than I have in years.  And I slept like a baby that night, which is rare for me.

  • Anonomousse

    Question: do i have to be a jew to participate?

  • http://www.shabbat-chic.com Mia

    Unplugging is really tough when your family is far away on Shabbat. It’s a balancing act between being connected to them and completely connected to the moment at home.

  • ET

    The week begins on Sunday,  Sunday, Monday…Saturday is the seventh day of the week, but you are correct to start the Sabbath on Friday at sundown… Happy Rest to you all!

  • ET

    Another point, in the Portuguese Language, Monday is segunda which means second, Tuesday means third,… and Friday means 6th, and the 7th day is called Sabbath in but with Portuguese spelling… Both this comment and the one below are stated because in the your logo you have the 6th day crossed out…

    It might be more accurate a logo, if you do start at sundown on Friday, and I suggest; you put a line through the last two circles, the lower part of the circles, and scribble out the lower sixth day and the higher part on the 7th day and your  Sabbath Manifesto adherants will get a visual of the time in question.

  • Ann

    Once every two years we take a cruise.  No internet, no connectivity for 10 days!  Try it.  It is great!

  • Juanjo104

    Check this video, it made me Unplug myself and think about how to really spend my time…

  • Simon Griffiths

    I’m Christian but was pointed to your site after I wrote this
    “Observing the Sabbath can be helpful” on my blog http://manticoreblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/sabbath-rest-work/ I’m going to see if I can implement your suggestions

  • Anneke Sips

    I did unplug and Loved It!! I was trying to inspire the Dutch with me to unplug… It fits in my idea of Yoga Unplugged too: http://yoga-unplugged.com/ I talked about this in my yoga class I was teaching. After I went out, made pictures, hikes.. I wrote and had fun with NO smartphone.. I will go on digitaldetox more often now! Thanks 😉

  • Chandler

    I recently completed national unplug day, and I will be doing this weekly from now on. I’m a young adult who has now realized how addictive technology can be. It seems if you aren’t on social media then, all your “friends” think you have died. I completed so much during those 24 hours such as, reading 386 pages in a book, and being one with myself. I highly recommend everyone taking a rest and relaxing for a day … It isn’t hard, trust me!!

  • Don Karp

    Here is a much simper way to celebrate Shabbat with only one rule or principle:
    Your activities this day are not compulsive–you can do anything, even Facebook, as long as you feel no obligation or franticness. What do you think of this simplification?

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