The Shabbat forms a foundation for an exploration of contemporary remembrance and observation.
Directed by Martin Doblmeier
SABBATH provides a sweeping history of the ancient spiritual practice, from the biblical creation story to Exodus and onward through early Christianity, Puritanism, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. At the same time, it highlights people and institutions observing Sabbath today. The film captures the diversity of Sabbath experiences and makes the case that the weekly day of rest is vital to the wellbeing of human communities and individuals and creation as a whole.
One piece of advice before screening SABBATH: Give it your full attention. The featured scholars, pastors, rabbis, farmers, monks, students and other practitioners from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions provide deep insight into the practice through their reflections and actions. (Theological schools are well represented in the two-hour film, including faculty from Duke Divinity School, Virginia Theological Seminary, and Princeton Theological Seminary.)
Martin Doblmeier and his team crisscross the country to highlight Sabbath practitioners in California, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, Indiana and beyond. They address issues such as health, ecology, food, immigration, the labor movement, COVID-19, technology use and much more. It is a breathtaking enterprise.
Much like Sabbath itself, the film eventually slows down, to great effect. Once the work of explaining has been (mostly) done, viewers are treated to the gorgeous landscapes of Abundance Farm in Massachusetts and Camp Ramah Darom, a Jewish camp in Georgia. It’s hard not to appreciate the radical equality demonstrated at Abundance, and the shared joy of the campers. While the expertise and eloquence of the many interviewees give this film its heft, one young camper offers the essential call to action: “I feel like a huge part of Shabbat is taking time to appreciate our world.”
Viewer, take note.