Blog Post : Shabbat Unplugged – Sophia Smith, recent Taglit-Birthright Israel participant

Shabbat Unplugged – Sophia Smith, recent Taglit-Birthright Israel participant | rebekah.thornhill | Jan 17, 2014

I saw a lot of Israel through my iPhone. The top of Masada is immortalized in a panorama, and everyone knows I got to ride a camel in the Negev thanks to a sweet selfie that I posted to Instagram. That being said, of course I didn’t even consider putting my camera away in beautiful Netanya – how could I not snap away for Shabbat on the beach?
We were standing at the edge of the Mediterranean, watching the sun slowly sink into the Sabbath, when we heard a radical idea – unplug. It was suggested that, for the next 25 hours, we take a rest from electronics, to whatever degree we felt comfortable.
I’m pretty fond of low-intensity risk taking, so I decided to go for it. In the morning I left my phone on the charger, intent on a wireless day. The effect was unanticipated – have you ever experienced something incredible, and made the deliberate choice to leave the moment as is? The sun was a shocking pierce of light in an otherwise undisturbed blue sky, and the sea was a trampoline, bouncing that impossible light back with fervor. For a precious morning, it wasn’t about my self-imposed obligation to record. It wasn’t about time constraints, or focusing, or concentration, or posing, or interacting at all – it was me and the Mediterranean.
Unplugging freed me from the monotony of bearing witness. Without an electronic device to hide my face behind, I could embrace the moment for its beautiful, fleeting worth. Don’t get me wrong – I still love my electronics as much as the next introverted, urban college student. Still, I appreciate my memory of an unplugged Shabbat more than I would any photo.