Thousands of bouquets of flowers were delivered in time for this past Shabbat, including to coronavirus patients, doctors, frontline health-care workers, volunteer first responders, lone soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and elderly people who are isolated during the pandemic.

Among others to receive Shabbat flowers were Holocaust survivors, new immigrants to Israel, community leaders, people with disabilities, residents in old-age homes and even farmers.

The flowers included a personal message from each sender to offer recipients comfort as the world reels from a pandemic and a divisive U.S. election.

“The thinking behind it is quite simple. It’s been a really difficult year. We’ve been torn apart in many ways,” said project founder Chief Rabbi of South Africa Warren Goldstein. “So at the Shabbat Project, we decided to come up with a campaign that could bring people together—something to remind one another that we are always here for each other. Shabbat is always an opportunity for all of us to put aside our differences and build a kinder, gentler, more empathetic world.”

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin was among a number of well-known public figures participating in “Flowers for Shabbat.”

“It was a privilege to take part in this moving initiative. Shabbat brings so much joy, and we must do all we can to bring light and happiness,” he said. “My flowers were sent to the residents of the Na’amat refuge shelter for women in Jerusalem with my wishes for strength and happiness.”

The initiative was part of the annual international Shabbat Project, which took place in more than 1,600 cities and 100 countries around the world. This year saw organizers persevere through COVID-19 restrictions to continue to draw Jews of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities to keep one Shabbat together under the theme “Bring Shabbat Home.”

The project created an array of educational resources that enhance the Shabbat-at-home experience, including a seven-step guide to observing Shabbat, as well as a compendium of enriching and inspiring ideas to read and share around the Shabbat table.

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