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:

  • David

    “The Sabbath Manifesto BBQ was enjoyable in its simplicity, which I think is what I love most about embracing Shabbat. We may think of it as shul, suits, and prayers, but when you boil it down to its essence, as we did with the Manifesto, you tap into a silence and peace that’s surprisingly easy and unfailingly enjoyable.”

  • Jackie

    “It was wonderful to watch so many people willingly (for the most part!) surrender their cell phones for the afternoon and give themselves over to a quiet rest day. Without technological distractions, people were engaged in thoughtful conversations and really listening to one another, taking quiet moments to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful, warm, Saturday afternoon.”

  • Kay

    “I attended the Sabbath Manifesto picnic in Fort Greene Park and I instantly felt reconnected to the group that had gathered. We handed off our cell phones, stacked our plates with grilled meat, drank hidden beers and the talking began, and then continued all day.”

  • Amber

    “For me, it’s hard to find a way to shut down for 24 hours. My i-phone is always on, work emails coming through… the Sabbath Manifesto helps me to switch off for 24 hrs every week and still maintain close connection with my friends. The principles help to put things in perspective and keep my priorities in check.”

  • Shloime

    Turning off my cell phone at sundown on a Friday. Tried it. Loved it. Couldn’t believe how hard it was. The conversations that followed were so good — because they were uninterrupted.

  • daryayael

    I'm so excited to attempt to “unplug.” It's such a simple concept, the idea of going back to our roots and reconnecting with all the unnecessary extras… yet it's such a novel idea. I think we could all use a time to get back in touch with those people and things that are truly important to us.

  • allasavina

    Супер интересно …

  • ruby

    i think this is the smartest idea i have ever come across. am not a jew. am not anything really. but i feel as overwhelmed as anyone these days when people draw their self importance from the number of emails they receive per minute. nothing finer than to take one day a week and realize there are more important things than you… well, one or two anyway. THANK YOU!

  • Jackie

    The DC event at Sixth & I was a memorable night. 200 people attended the event, which was a happy hour/musical Shabbat service/community dinner fusion. All 10 principles were incorporated into the night, from a collective turning off of cell phones (#1) to eating challah bread pudding (#8) and walking home (#4). The idea of unplugging totally resonated with the crowd, and Rabbi Shira Stutman conveyed the relevance of the ancient tradition of Shabbat in our thoroughly modern lives.

  • StephenCooper

    I'm in!

  • AKH

    LOVE what you're doing!

    I have had Shabbat envy since meeting a strict Shabbas observer over 10 years ago. I’m not Jewish and have no desire to convert but love the concept of Shabbat. I see how it so fuels my friends who strictly observe it weekly.

    The National Day of Unplugging this Friday into Saturday has given me the gift of a perfect excuse to have a Shabbat-lite experience! For me to observe Shabbat to any degree without a good basis in secular (green maybe?) practicality would cause my friends and family to think I’d lost my mind.

    As an aside, for the past 10+ years, I've refrained from eating meat on Fridays, not because of anything to do with Jesus dying on a Friday or even as a nod to old skool Catholicism but just for old time’s sake, and so that I am assured of one meatless day each week. And no one flinches when I say, “I don’t eat meat on Friday.” Likewise, it would be similarly efficient to say, “I observe one Unplugged Day each week” or “I'm off the grid for one 24 period each week,” and in the process I finally have the opportunity to claim my personal Shabbat observance!!!

    Thank you, Sabbath Manifesto!!!

  • cydr

    thank you for putting this out there. i watched the video. it's fabulous. listen, my comment is: for a lot of us, me included, we are on a journey back toward judaism. we are adults and discovering meaning and making personal what used to be just empty rituals. that's how it was kind of for me growing up. and well, little by little, we do some of the halacha, then fall off the wagon. it's a back and forth process. it's still very spiritual and meaningful. thanks for showing how we are all together in this process. shabbat shalom.

  • lauraconnell

    I posted about Day of Unplugging on my blog:
    Can't wait to implement it!

  • http://www.ecmmentors.com/ Aaron Bryant

    I found this article on CNN and found it very interesting. Im not Jewish, actually I'm Muslim but I felt compelled to share my story with you. A few months ago I was feeling overwhelmed with all the “connectivity” that I was practicing that I made a decision to unplug. I cancelled my facebook page, stopped twittering totally, really just tried to minimalize my online life. I found this article interesting because today I am taking my son on a camping trip for the weekend. Im going to introduce him to the great outdoors and re-connect with him. I truly appreciate what you are doing and I totally support it. Good luck.

  • aggie

    What are the “10 core principles” please? Can't find them on this site. Best to you all – this is an important trend – let's keep it going!

  • rebooters

    It's on the home page: sabbathmanifesto.org

  • jebbanner

    Came across this on CNN as well. I recently came to a similar conclusion while attending SXSWi. It was an amazing event but it made me really aware of how much we are shutting out the “real” world for connectivity. I began to wonder if it was really a good trade. So I gave my phone to a friend at the conference and went 24 hours at SXSWi off the grid. It was an interesting experience. Here's the blog documenting my experience and take aways.

  • julieschwartz

    Last July, my 12 year old daughter and I began observing shabbat.
    The first thing we agreed to do was not use any technology that conncected us with the outside world. No cell phones, email, internet or land line phones were to be used during the sabbath. Only during an emergency do we use any of the mentioned electronics. This has enhanced the peacefulness of shabbat – we are focused only on Hashem, our family and our fellow congregants at schul. We are living in sacred time and not human made time. On Friday night, when we light the candles, our two dogs and even the cat, sit by the table and enjoy shabbos with us.

  • Joseph Bieksza

    It is interesting that you would cause many to re-evaluate their lives in comparison to Scripture. In Revelation 14:7, there is a universal call to WORSHIP GOD who made heaven and earth. This mirrors Exodus 20:8-11, which commands us to Remember the Sabbath day because God made the heavens and earth. God blessed the Sabbath and set it apart from all the other days of the week. He made it for “holy” use. The Sabbath was first given to Adam & Eve (not Jewish) after the work of creating the world in six days. It is THE DAY to remember GOD as our Creator and now (through Jesus) our Redeemer. So, #1 of your “Core principles” should be for all people to gather together in WORSHIP of God. The Scriptures declare it. It is really not up for some open “unique interpretations”.

  • Whiplash

    It was a bit hard at first. My habit is to check email before bed and first thing in the morning. But it was awesome being “off the grid” and reminded me a lot of how it was when I was a kid. Having the TV off though was the best thing. My wife and I had a glass of wine together and just sat and talked in our quiet living room. Fantastic. This is going to become a weekly routine for us.

  • http://drycast.com/ Simon

    Shabbat is such a wonderful island of time.No phones, faxes, radio etc. It is beautiful. Friday night meals – with candles,wine – singing. I love it and look forward to it every week.The spiritual element is alive and inspiring as well. Prayers etc. Great idea you have – I hope it will bring Jews closer to their roots – and the rest of the world closer to their sense of spirit and appreciation for the simple things in life.

  • MikeTRose

    Managed it, mostly: no email, no Twitter from Friday evening to Saturday night. Answered the cellphone on Saturday afternoon but that's because we were coordinating plans for the evening. A small Facebook moment late on Friday, as I had forgotten to post a birthday video for my mother (that's a mitzvah too, dontcha know :-).

    It was… challenging. And, once I got past my twitchy iPhone-in-pocket what-am-I-missing feeling, it was relaxing. It felt odd to be at once disconnected from my digital existence and *more* connected to my physical existence — my wife, children, home & synagogue.

    It took effort and will, and it may not be something I do every week… but at least now if I find myself reaching for the phone or the laptop on Shabbat I'll take a moment to reflect and examine, to make a conscious choice rather than a reflexive automatic motion.

  • meirav

    I had one rule in determining what I did today; I asked myself, “Does it lead to rest?” If it did, I allowed myself to do it; if not, I didn't. I read, road my bike, and visited friends.

    The principles really brought Shabbat home in the 21st Century.

  • lentedi2

    I had a doctor visit a couple weeks ago on a Friday afternoon. I wasn't feeling well and had a horribly stressful week finding out out my husband has cancer. She is a Jewish doctor and as she wrote me out her prescription, I found it profound that she was placing “rest” at the top of the list. God gave us the Sabbath to rest. It was made for man because he would not rest unless God made him. If we would only follow the orders of our divine doctor we wouldn't need half of the health care we struggle with now and we wouldn't need to get a second opinion.

  • http://clayman.tumblr.com Greg Clayman

    I had to continually remind myself that I was “unplugged” as I kept heading towards my desk and/or feeling for one of my phones throughout the day. It was about as painful as I imagined it might be.

    But of course there were positives here too. Many of them. Some things I did on this day of unplugging:

    * Filled out the census form
    * Spent most of the day outside
    * Took a nap
    * Spent time at the greengrocers
    * Walked around with The Economist in my back pocket – checking into that throughout instead of my Blackberry
    * Read a book
    * Bought a newspaper
    * Found a restaurant without using GPS
    * Was with my wife and daughter for every minute of the day

    And that last one made the whole thing worthwhile.

  • pete

    I unplugged on friday!

    (but it was due to a bad case of tonsillitis)

  • mredison

    A friend who's a Quaker pointed me in your direction (and though I was raised Roman Catholic I've been slouching towards Buddhism more and more). Your ideas struck a loud chord with me and I gave it a go. I forgot my cel phone at work for the weekend, so that was a snap; not turning on the computer when I got home required more of an effort but it was worth it.
    I tuned up the guitar and played a bit for the first time in a year or so, I read an article or two I was meaning to get too and started a book. (But that's not news, I'm always STARTIING books.) I did allow myself the opportunity to listen to music but ONLY vinyl. So I pulled out a Beethoven Trio on Friday night, a solo Dollar Brand (before he was Abdullah Ibrahim) set on Saturday. I walked. Saw friends and talked. Cooked. And paid attention to all of it, making sure not to multi task. It was one of the more relaxed and focused Saturdays in recent memory.
    I'll probably do it again on my own. But please keep me informed to when the next “organized” plug out is occurring so I can bring other people along on this.

  • lynndorman

    Your unplugged day “caught” me just as I was also getting back to service attendance which I had the done the previous shabbat. I so loved that half day of reflection I decided to stay off the computer all day this past shabbat and it was so peacefully wonderful that I will do it each week. We do need to unplug and re-connect with others in our lives. There is an ad about a phone that says “stay connected all the time” and my own son says “who would want that?” Well – his own mother just got the message 🙂 Still can learn from our kids [and you] so thank you for making this so public….

  • benhastings

    After the children were in bed, we spent an enjoyable evening of coffee consumption and Lost Cities. Saturday was spent mostly outdoors hiking and enjoying the wonderful blessing of early spring sunshine.

    We're going to try to make this a weekly event!

  • David Sax

    Sat on a train for most of the day, watching the scenery go by. Read a book, and talked to a passenger, who turned out to be a fellow Rebooter.

  • elainesl

    It was very hard for me to do, and I caved in around 4pm. The very fact that it was so difficult, and how much I thought about it during the day, just shows me how much I need to make this break every seven days. Which I aim to do. Like breaking any other addiction, it will become easier.

  • Sharon Reyolds

    I read your article after the fact, but found it very encouraging. During January, I began limiting my computer time to 2 evenings a week at home. I cancelled my Facebook several weeks ago, but keep a blog going for our long-distance family. I refuse to Twitter, after all, just how much do you really need to know about what I do each day? After 2 weeks of limited computer use, I found myself talking with family more and enjoying the conversations. I found that I accomplished more during the week, thus freeing up time on the weekends to be spent with family and friends. I think we are all interesting people, but it's hard to discoverer that when we all have our noses buried in iphones, blackberry's and laptops. Unplugged will definitely become a part of my life…thanks again for the encouragement in leaving the electronic world behind for a while each week!

  • sanfrandan

    I have to say, I am hooked on email, so this was hard for me. I kept the phone on, which I needed for calls from wife/friends arranging pickup/dropoff of kids. People depend on that these days! But my battery nearly ran out, and I didn't recharge. I didn't once check email or the Web. And it felt great.

    I left most of the emails til Monday, now I'm back in old bad habits, but will try unplugging again this weekend! Thank you!

  • Tess

    My partner and I turned off all electrical gadgets except the fridge, and snuggled on the couch in candle light. We talked about our goals and plans for the future, and we came up with some wonderful, creative ideas that I am convinced would not have come out without taking this type of time to think and discuss together. We woke the next morning thoroughly recharged.

  • gilla nissan

    good luck!
    the home and family or small circle is The Teacher now
    pleasure to see it working………

  • Elaine Kellner

    This is my third “unplugged from the computer” Shabbat. I love it! Enjoying more time with family and friends, reading and napping, I feel like I'm renewing myself and the people around me. Thanks again for reminding me (through Facebook and the Shabbat Manifesto), Gd.

  • http://markg1975.wordpress.com/ Mark Gardner

    A few weeks ago I embarked on a challenge following a tweet about “the Sabbath Manifesto” http://bit.ly/bxJ0Z7. The idea behind this, in its simplest form being that you unplug from technology for 24 hours, over Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Now, I'm not Jewish but the idea seemed a good one. My wife especially thought it was a good idea – I'm always on my phone, be it reading twitter, surfing the web or playing games, and for that reason she was convinced I couldn't do it.

    To start with it was hard, your immediate reaction is to pick your phone up in a spare millisecond, “I'm just…” However, once that urge passed, although it never truly did, the changes in me were remarkable. I was more attentive, my concentration span was greater, I was even calmer.

    I think this is excellent and will be unplugging more often.

  • http://www.allweekwalls.com/services.html room dividers nyc

    I wanna practice this Sabbath Manifesto in a group. I will gather my family and friends together. Can't wait to do it. Thanks for inspiring me. Thanks a lot!

  • http://kirpus69.blogspot.com/ Kirpus

    I shake the head to the fact that my parents generation repeatedly ate chemicals and polluted the world, yet, my generation is poisoning our minds with media – social or not.

    I hope to cut back 20% of my online time – one our at the time.
    Thank you for inspiring me.

  • ingridzweifel

    My name is Ingrid Zweifel, and I am currently a senior in product design at Parsons School of Design in NYC. I am finishing up my thesis project in which I am designing tools that help people turn phones off at dinner in order to fully engage with loved ones. Obviously, I was incredibly excited to find out about the Sabbath Manifesto! Check out my website at http://www.myphoneisoffforyou.com.

  • http://www.myphoneisoffforyou.com Ingrid Zweifel

    My name is Ingrid Zweifel, and I am a senior in Product Design at Parsons School of Design. I am finishing my thesis in which I am designing tools that help people turn off cell phones at dinner in order to fully engage with loved one. Obviously, I was incredibly excited to find out about Sabbath Manifesto! Check out my website at http://www.myphoneisoffforyou.com.

  • Elaine

    Ingrid, I loved your website. How about designing a series of socks or phone case covers on which you could convey the same messages about why a person is shutting down: Sabbath, Plays, Lectures, dining, Driving (as a reminder to the driver or a subtle hint to give someone else. What do you think?

  • ingridzweifel

    Hi, Elaine. Thank you for your response! I have been thinking about all of the different “tools” this can be to help people turn their phones off, so I love the idea. This is only the beginning!

  • can10

    so wonderful!!this is exactly the way i explain to others why shabat is so good! DISCONNECTTTTTTT!

  • Yvonne

    Today was awesome! I had already been in the habit of eating a Sabbath meal, but I didn't do much to really set aside the day. Maybe about four times a year, I'd go to synagogue. These principles are making Shabbat relevant for me.
    Friday, my housemate from many years ago sent me an article about turning off technology because he had seen on Facebook that I'm unplugging. He referred to it as my “No Tech Day.”

    Friday, as I was driving to my friends' for dinner, I was so stressed from the week, that I turned on some music (Craig Taubman's Friday Night Live). When the chorus to L'cha Dodi played, I was in tears.

    I unplugged before dinner and am just plugging back in now. I rode my bike, went to the ocean, and really made the day special. It was even better than I had hoped. The best part came at the end: watching the sun go down over the Pacific. The peace of the waves, the beauty of the sun, and the silence as I took it in were all outstanding.

    I had bee looking forward to the Sabbath so much that I posted that on Thursday in my Facebook status. A student ask “what is that? The one with the hut?” I replied that it was the Worldwide Jewish Day of Unplugging.” When I logged back in to Facebook today, I saw her “like” on my Facebook “Shabbat Shalom” message.

  • meirav

    A friend asked what Shabbat was. I described it as a time to unplug, do no work and focus on your family. Her response? “It happens every week?!”

    It's cool to pass on the passion!

  • Laurie

    I've been unplugged for three Shabbats so far. I didn't manage to actually leave my cell phone at home, but it was off. I did not turn on my computer–well, there was that one time, but I remembered right away and turned it off again!

    So, what was it like? I noticed several times a pull to check my email. It wasn't difficult to resist the pull, but it was definitely there and required some effort to find something else to do. God knows there is rarely anything earth shattering in my email, so the desire to log on is more habitual than anything else. Breaking the habit makes me feel like I'm in control not my technology.

    I talked with our children (21 and 27 years old) about the creeping intrusion of technology into every human interaction. I didn't demand anything of them, but I think I planted a seed for further thought.

    I'm enjoying being unplugged one day a week. I plan to keep doing it and see if I can get others to join me.

  • http://www.willsloan.com/about/ Will Sloan

    Speaking as someone who doesn't believe in God, I find something like this wholesome, insightful, and refreshing. If belief in God is your thing, then you already have your manifesto and this isn't for you. Tossing scripture at someone who doesn't believe in it won't change anything. It will only serve to create tension where it's unnecessary. This is an open-minded way of adopting some of the benefits of a day of rest without any religious connotations. Something I'm very in favor of. Being open to unique interpretation means it's also something that can be interwoven with your existing belief system. It's not a slant at God or religion.

  • http://www.techfreeday.org/ Erika

    I am a freelance writer writing an article about grass roots unplugging events all over the United States. I am looking for reactions from people who participated in these events. If you unplugged on your own or as part of a group, and would like to share your story, please contact me at erika @ techfreeday.org. Thanks!

  • http://www.mycopress.com Myra Estelle

    When I was a child I didn't understand why we couldn't do some activities on the Sabbath, but now I've come to appreciate the free day as a gift of precious time. I've gradually found deeper spiritual insights and discovered subtle teachings in Hebrew and Aramaic that explain the inner process more clearly. I've recorded what I found in these teachings in a book called “Awakening Love: A Spiritual Quest Into Judaism” published by Myco Press at http://www.mycopress.com.

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