More Than One Million People Recite ‘Shema Yisrael’ Simultaneously
On Sunday evening, at approximately 9:30 p.m. Jerusalem time, more than one million Jews, in Israel and across the world, simultaneously recited the Shema Yisrael prayer – the Jewish declaration of faith, Israel’s Walla news reported.
The simultaneous recital of the Shema was born out of an initiative started two weeks ago when Michael Greenwald – an Orthodox Jew – was inspired to take action after the tragic deaths of the seven children of the Sassoon family in a fire in their Brooklyn home.
Greenwald’s initiative gained momentum on social media networks, and was promoted on Orthodox radio stations, becoming a uniting cause among many Jews around the world, according to Walla.
Commenting on the success of the initiative, Greenwald said, “I never imagined it would get such a great response.” He admitted the project was like “tossing a ball and not knowing where it would end up,” and called on “every Jew, whether secular, religious or ultra-Orthodox,” to join the initiative, “even if it is someone who only knows the first part, or the initial line, that’s also fine.”
Charedi radio presenter Moshe Ben Lulu first announced the news earlier on Sunday, saying that, “More than a million Jews will be saying the Shema at the same time,” and noting that “Jews from Los Angeles, India, China and Israel,” would be joining the initiative, “because it’s a good thing.”
Ben Lulu said that the initiative was “proof that a common denominator can be found among all of us,” adding that, “we have to find uniting moments and not, God forbid, to become accustomed to divisiveness and hatred.” Ben Lulu also expressed his hope that “this will be a good start to many more moments of the same kind.”
The project also gained traction outside the Ultra-Orthodox community, and mainstream rabbis, public figures and celebrities joined the initiative.
Among other Israeli celebrities, model Miri Bohadana, singers Rinat Gabay and Sarit Hadad, the actor Zebulon Moshiaswili, and even Achi Natan and Ortal Goshen from Israel’s “Big Brother” house, joined the initiative.
In endorsing the project Bohadana commented that, “anything that is connected to spirituality and love of God, I’m there,” and that, “this is a great time of favor. I truly love God, and I usually say the Shema, so there’s no reason why I wouldn’t agree to also say it this evening.”
Sarit Hadad – who sings the popular song ‘Shema Yisrael Elohai’ – told Walla that she was “very happy to join this initiative which is entirely a sanctification of God’s Name. This is a blessed initiative that touches every Jew across the world.”
The specific time, 9:30 p.m. Jerusalem time, was chosen due to the time difference between the countries across the world where Jews live, in order to allow as many as possible to participate in the initiative at the same time.