UK Chief Rabbi calls for ‘Sabbath’ from social media

Britain’s Chief Rabbi has warned that the UK is in danger of falling prey to an addiction to social media at the expense of real human relationships.

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the ancient Jewish principle of observing the Sabbath or a day of rest is an “antidote” to such an addiction.

The orthodox Jewish interpretation of Sabbath observance includes a ban on using electrical devices such as computers and telephones.

Rabbi Mirvis said such a practice could help wean people off one of the most intrusive aspects of modern life.

He urged people, irrespective of their religious background, to consider setting aside time to switch their devices off to help them “connect” to natural human relationships again.

“They don’t realise that sometimes the more connected one is the more disconnected one is from everything that is important.”

Rabbi Mirvis was speaking to the Daily Telegraph ahead of “Shabbat UK”, an initiative to encourage Jewish people to re-engage with their faith by observing the full Sabbath laws for one day from the evening of Friday October 23 to Saturday October 24.

This year’s event, the second time the initiative has run, will include an attempt to set a new world record for the largest ever mass bake-off to make traditional Challah bread for the Sabbath meal.

Rabbi Mirivs also spoke out about the UK Government’s plans to relax Sunday trading laws.

The Chief Rabbi offered his support to a campaign by church leaders to limit shop opening hours to preserve the principle of a day which is set aside.

Although the Jewish Sabbath falls a day earlier than the Christian day of rest, the principles are largely the same, he said.


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