And on the seventh day The Lord said, "Enough with the tweeting already, give that iPhone a rest." At least that’s the idea Reboot, a Jewy nonprofit for young professionals, is promoting with its first National Day of Unplugging starting tonight (March 19) at sundown. The Sabbath Manifesto asks Jews and non-Jews alike to avoid technology for 25 hours. Luckily, if you’ve got big plans, or don’t want to waste free minutes, the Manifesto is flexible: You can pick your day of rest. The important thing, according to Dan Rollman at Reboot (and founder of the Universal Record Data Base) is to take the time to mellow out with God, or anything besides your plug-in toys. You might actually enjoy yourself.
Heeb enlisted the very plugged-in Monica Rozenfeld of TheJewSpot to probe Rollman about the Day of Unplugging:
What made you create this call to arms?
I’ve always liked the idea of a weekly Sabbath from a spiritual perspective, but never felt very connected to attending synagogue. The Manifesto is an attempt to create a more modern weekly day of rest.
Can you keep to the Manifesto? If not, wouldn’t it be kind of hypocritical to ask others to unplug?
We’re not telling anyone to observe the Manifesto. All we’ve done is create a set of principles that felt appropriate and relevant to us. I don’t observe the Manifesto in an Orthodox manner, but it’s definitely helped me carve out a weekly day of rest. I rarely work on Saturdays, and often turn off my cell phone for some of or the entire 24-hour window.
You realize there are free minutes Friday night to Saturday, right? Can’t we unplug on a Thursday?
Though the Manifesto incorporates certain Jewish traditions (eating bread, drinking wine, lighting candles), we made a conscious effort to make this project secular. We’ve already heard from non-Jews observing the principles on a day other than Saturday. If you want to follow the principles from Thursday night to Friday night, go for it.
What constitutes as technology? Do vibrators count?
The principles were purposely written in a way to allow for interpretation. Define technology as you wish.
What do you believe will happen, on a spiritual, physical or metaphysical level, if everyone stopped using technology for just one Shabbat?
I’d pay big bucks to find out.
What if you’re a neurotic Jew who doesn’t like to slow down? If you prefer to stay hyped-up and plugged in? Convince me this is necessary.
It’s not necessary. If you’d prefer to be hyped-up 24/7, go for it. Don’t observe the principles unless you gain meaning from them.
What are you going to ask of us next after the Day of Unplugging? Day of Abstinence?