In Baltimore, decision to open JCC on Saturday leads to 4,000-strong rally in support of Shabbat

The controversial decision in Baltimore to open a suburban JCC on Shabbat spurred a rally by the area’s Orthodox community that was less about deriding the JCC’s decision than it was about reinforcing the religious community’s commitment to Shabbat, according to the Baltimore Sun.

JCC officials are saying that they have to open on Shabbat because that is what their customer base wants. And they say they would prefer that Jews congregate with other Jews at the JCC on Shabbat than elsewhere.

The Orthodox community, which brought out more than 4,000 people to the rally, is saying that Shabbat is the greatest gift that the Jews have. But instead of making this a divisive issue, Orthodox leaders are calling on their constituents to reach out to the non-Orthodox to help them better understand why Shabbat is important.

At Northwestern High School on Sunday, rabbi after rabbi rose under a banner that read "In honor of Shabbos" and lamented the current state of observance among the wider Jewish community. Rabbi Yissocher Frand of Ner Israel concluded his remarks with some instructions.

"If shabbos is indeed the precious gift that has sustained us for so many millennia, then let’s do something about sharing it with other people," he said. "Most of you work in environments in which you see and meet and work for or work with nonobservant employees all the time. Invite them for a shabbos. … Let them see and feel what it’s all about. If their shabbos means so much to us, then let’s show them how special it really is."
 

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