Unplug…Then What?


Hooray, it’s the National Day of Unplugging!  Once again, we’ve reached that special time of the year when a nice chunk of humanity pauses briefly, turns off our screens, and just embraces…what exactly?

Powering down your phone is easy.  You hold a button for a few seconds and it turns off.  But what happens next isn’t always so simple.  Unplugging is really just the first step.  It creates a space, but if we don’t fill that space, it can quickly become a void.  Our devices may be necessities for work, or play, but a lot of the time they are stopgaps, plugging those inevitable gaps in our lives between destinations or conversations, with brightly lit distractions.

When you turn off your phone, the silence it instantly brings might arrive as a sort of monastic sense of calm, but it can also quickly turn to boredom.  Few of us have the ability to instantly sink into the lotus position and meditate for twenty-four hours (and if you can, I’m guessing you’re already a maven of unplugging).  To embrace the benefits of a day unplugged you need to have a plan for how you will spend that time untethered from the world of 1’s and 0’s.

One way to approach this is to think about the things you love on your phone or computer, and then seek out the analog (ie: non-digital) versions of that.  If you’re a news junkie, go out and buy the fattest weekend newspaper you can find, spread it out on the couch, and read every single section with a giant pot of coffee.  If you love playing video games, bring three to the nearest board game café, and learn to play at least two new games on cardboard.  Love Instagram? Then buy (or borrow) an instant film camera, head to a neighborhood you’ve never been to before, and start snapping pictures.

For me, my unplugged Saturdays hold a few common analog elements.  Coffee and some sort of baked good to start off, with a Bill Withers record spinning on the turntable.  A chapter or two of a book I actually want to read.  And as much time as possible spent outdoors.  Sometimes it’s a day of skiing or a hike in the woods, other times an afternoon at the playground with my kids, or a long, aimless walk, with nothing competing for my attention but whatever happens to cross my path.

Remember that unplugging isn’t some test to endure for a day, like a fast.  It is permission to indulge in a way of communicating, interacting, and relaxing with the tangible world that can be more rewarding, and enjoyable, than whatever you won’t miss on your phone.

David Sax is a freelance writer specializing in business and food. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesBloomberg Businessweek, Saveur, The Grid Toronto, and other publications. He is the author of Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect PastramiCrusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen and has won a James Beard Award for writing and literature. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

National Day of Unplugging Community Partner Highlights

The National Day of Unplugging is coming up in just a few short weeks and our partners have been hard at work putting together some amazing programs to help their communities unplug! We’re highlighting a few of the innovative, collaborative and exciting events that are in store for 2017’s NDU. This is just the tip of the iceberg – and there’s still time to plan your own event this year. Let us know what you have planned or how we can help.

National Day of Unplugging at Brooklyn BouldersNDU_newsletter_800x367

Join Reboot and Brooklyn Boulders in New York, Chicago and Boston for the National Day of Unplugging on Friday March 3rd. Climb, meditate, and decompress from a week’s worth of seemingly infinite scrolling in a phone-free zone. Shake and stretch your woes away in yoga classes. Step away from the selfie-cam and take some photos in our photo booth. Work with Lynn Gentry for on the spot personal poetry. Color the night away at a giant mindful mural created by LA-based writer and illustrator Chris Noxon in partnership with Print All Over Me  and tuck away for conversations about technology use thanks to our partners at Living Room Conversations. Let an evening full of acoustic music and technology-free activities lead you to unplugged bliss. Co-sponsored by Reboot, Brooklyn Boulders, and Lululemon. This event has been made possible in part by the generous contributions of UJA-Federation of New York.


Unplugged Bike Ride in San Francisco

Untitled design (5)Get off your phone and get on your bike! Reboot and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition are using the National Day Of Unplugging on March 4, 2017 to bring diverse groups together for a symbolic ride of unity through interfaith landmarks around San Francisco. Join them for a 14-mile, relaxed pace, no-drop ride with multiple stops throughout the city that represent unity, togetherness and peace. There will be one stop along the way for water and music by the Saint John Coltrane Church. After the ride, the party doesn’t stop! We’ll lock up our bikes at Thee Parkside, where food and drinks will be available for purchase and a live band will be playing. Even if you can’t make the ride, please feel free to join us around noon at Thee Parkside for the festivities.


Unplug Atlanta

Unplug Atlanta poster draft

Unplug from technology and re-engage with your senses on Saturday, March 4, at SweetWater Brewing Company. Guests will receive a SweetWater Brewing Co. tour and tasting, an Unplug Atlanta Souvenir glass, and a cell phone sleeping bag. The program includes interactive “sensory stations” that will allow you to taste, smell, see, hear, feel – and relax. The stations include chocolate tastings, live music, massages, and yoga; a blindfolded beer tasting will challenge your palate and let you explore beer flavors anew; and the Off Centered Project will be performing a memorizing circus and acrobatics routine. Tickets available now at 



Unplug LA


Join Reboot + Open Temple for the 4th annual off-the-grid Unplugged Party to Celebrate Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging. Check your phone at the door and together we’ll redefine what it means to truly be connected. It’s like summer camp for adults, in the city, for one epic night of pure unadulterated fun. Unplug after a busy week and take time off the grid to feel awesome. Live music, board games, typewriters, analog photo booth, arts ‘n crafts, face painting, and more. Rules: No Work Talk or Networking No Digital Technology, Cameras or Watches We’ll all use Nicknames! This event is dedicated to the memory of our dear friend and collaborator, Levi Felix, founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded. $3 of each ticket will be donated to Camp Grounded in his memory.



Southern Maine’s Jewish community celebrates Shabbat Unplugged 

Shabbat Unplugged March 2017 FLYER (dragged)

The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine (JCA) is proud to partner with seven local Jewish organizations to offer a broad range of programs exploring the “Shabbat Unplugged” experience over the weekend of March 3-4. We are excited to have built a diverse coalition to provide engagement opportunities for all ages and interests. This innovative community collaboration includes Friday evening open gallery hours at the Maine Jewish Museum in downtown Portland, a Shabbat potluck dinners at Congregation Bet Ha’am, and a series of family-friendly activities on Saturday afternoon at Temple Beth El, including open board games, gentle yoga, children’s story time and drama skits, culminating in a community Havdalah ceremony marking the end of the Sabbath. Events are free and all are welcome!

Thanks to all of our partners for making 2017’s National Day of Unplugging the biggest one yet! Stay tuned for more updates on community partner programs and events as we approach the NDU.

These events have been made possible in part by the generous contributions of UJA-Federation of New York, Jim Joseph Foundation, Joyce & Irving Goldman Family Foundation, Rosenthal Family Foundation, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and YAD of the Jewish Federation of San Francisco.

Questions about the National Day of Unplugging? Want help planning a program? Connect with our national outreach and partnership manager, Josh Kanter at josh@rebooters.net. Want to sign up to be a community partner? Do that here.

Unplugging of Your Own Design with LEGOS!

There are so many ways to get creative with unplugging. See how SoulPancake teamed up with professional LEGO artist, Adam Ward, to create a cell phone prison cell to keep your phone locked away while you unplug. Then follow Adam’s new show with SoulPancake, Brick X Brick!


What’s in it to #unplug?

Friday Sunset Logo

Dan Fast

It’s sunset on Friday. Where are you? Like most Jewish young adults, you are probably not lighting Shabbat candles. Maybe you’re at a bar? Or at a restaurant with friends? Perhaps going to see a movie or concert?

But what if around sunset, you received a ping reminding you to unplug and take a minute to reflect. Would you take that moment?

At Reboot, we know that Judaism and Jewish culture are full of rich ideas, values, traditions, and guidance for all of life’s moments, big and small. And yet, we also know it feels inaccessible to many people–especially many Jewish young adults. This key question is closely connected to our mission–affirming the values of Jewish traditions and creating new ways for people to make them their own. So we set out to address this question by reframing it as a design challenge, and we set to find solutions to this challenge with the help of world-class design company IDEO.

Working closely with IDEO, we underwent an exploration and discovery process, talking with a diverse group of young adults about their lives, what’s important to them, and how they feel about being Jewish. They shared their experiences with us, and we found opportunities for design in their stories. Next, we invited two dozen leading thinkers, creators, and leaders from diverse backgrounds to join us for a three-day design workshop.

During the workshop, we realized the solution to this design challenge isn’t a single product or idea. It’s actually establishing a creative and functional “queue” of products for Jewish life and modern living, which enhance people’s day-to-day lives and allows us to learn as we build.


The products created would embody a set of shared, core values, which include:.

  • Have a profound sense of welcome for all;

  • Engage people’s head, heart, and humor (all three are key);

  • Celebrate diversity of interpretations and expressions of Jewishness, and encouraging a Do-It-Yourself approach;

  • Share guidelines and tools, not rules, which help people in their lives and meet them where they’re at;

  • Remix rich traditions with new thinking; and

  • Be gorgeous in aesthetics, design, and feeling.


This brings us to Friday night. During our discovery process, we learned that a challenge young adults face is finding ways to disconnect from technology and reconnect with real people in real time.

Introducing FRIDAY. It’s a free iPhone App that helps users slow down and disconnect during this time of weekly transition, the start of Shabbat. Think of FRIDAY as a warm welcome at the end of the week—an invitation to pause, reflect, unplug, and connect with something that’s not on your screen. We know it’s ironic, but we’ve found the most plugged-in people want to be met where they already are. We believe Shabbat is the great Jewish equalizer: everyone can get behind the idea of a meal with friends, family, and good conversation.

The App works like this: every Friday, 30 minutes before sunset, your phone pings you and asks, “Are you ready for Friday?” If you click yes, your screen then recedes into a blissful twilight, while the App serves up a thought-provoking story and question to inspire personal reflection and fuel lively dinner discussion. After reading, your phone’s screen fades from twilight to darkness, prompting you to put it away and connect with something (or someone) that’s not on your screen.

So now, as the National Day of Unplugging approaches on March 4-5, we are asking you to unplug from technology and plug into what is important to you. And before you do that. Take a moment to slow down with a story, reflect with a question and enjoy that moment of transition on FRIDAY.

Download FRIDAY in the iTunes Store and learn more at thefridayapp.com. Pledge to unplug, sign up to be a community partner and learn more at the Nationaldayofunplugging.com.

Dan Fast is the Manager of Special Projects for Reboot, responsible for the creation and launch of new products and projects to support Reboot’s next chapter of inventiveness. Dan built his experience in community development, strategic planning, program design and management through his roles at Birthright Israel NEXT, UJA-Federation of New York, and Young Judaea. His passion for music and entrepreneurism led him to co-founding Mercado Sound, an educational travel startup that explores global cultures through the lens of music. Dan holds a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from Lafayette College, and completed Columbia Business School’s Developing Leaders Program.


Be Active – The Righteous Conversations Project

This video was created and gifted to Reboot by The Righteous Conversations Project, an initiative that connects and develops dialogues between students and Holocaust survivors. We’re proud to be a part of their network and to have this video to highlight the benefits of unplugging for the National Day of Unplugging 2016.

Be Active | Gifted to Reboot from TheRighteousConversationsProject on Vimeo.

It’s Easier Than You Think to #Unplug



Can you imagine existing without your cellphone, tablet, laptop, or computer? It’s practically inconceivable!

Cell phones are certainly a wonderful boon to our ability to communicate; they allow us to establish immediate contact with those with whom we wish to speak. Parents can check on their children almost instantaneously; children can call their parents to assure them they are fine. If we are running late for a meeting or an appointment, we can call and notify those with whom we are scheduled to meet of our tardiness. Bosses can contact workers, businesspeople can reach clients and customers, family and friends can locate travelers, travelers can call airlines – and the list goes on and on. And, of course, the utility of cell phones in cases of emergency cannot be overestimated.

If you have a smartphone, you know how convenient it can be. You can download apps that allow you to control, guide, direct, or be notified of a myriad of items. You can get directions, control household appliances, listen to music, keep up with the news and weather, follow the stock market, summon a taxi, make airline or hotel or restaurant reservations, take and send photos, even be notified of a minyan – all via your smartphone.

And, of course, tablets have allowed us to bring almost all of the power and capabilities of computers to our fingertips. Tablets and laptops have provided us with incredible mobility; we are no longer tethered to our offices or homes the desktop computers they contain(ed).

When cell phones and smartphones became commodity items, people claimed that they would make communication simpler and business more efficient; life would become easier – all of which has been proven correct. The pundits also maintained that because we would avoid having to wait to find payphones (remember them?), and would also be able to leave messages for those whom we were unable to contact, cell phones would ultimately provide us with more free time. The same claims were made as computers were miniaturized to laptops and then to tablets.

More free time because of a cellphone or tablet? — That has definitely not occurred! If anything, cellphones and tablets have invaded our private space and our personal time. Thanks to cell phones, our business or working lives intrude upon our family time. We feel obligated to check our smartphones every few minutes to determine if we have any messages. Our friends, colleagues, and mere acquaintances feel that they have the right to contact us any time of the day or night. People are so enslaved by their cellphones that they text while driving, endangering not only themselves, but also others on the road. Students surreptitiously check their cell phones during class, friends look at their phones in the midst of conversations, and participants in meetings glance at their smartphones with regularity – all causing them to be distracted from the conversation in which they are supposed to be participating. People are so attached (almost literally) to their cellphones and smartphones that, as a Rabbi, I must now announce before I begin a wedding service or a funeral that everyone should silence his/her phones! In spite of these announcements, I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard someone’s cell phone ring at a wedding or funeral, or noticed people texting while I am conducting such a service.

Indeed, we have truly become slaves to our cell phones/smartphones, tablets, and laptops, rather than their masters. They have enchained us rather than our controlling them. They have encroached on our family time and personal time; they have rendered us incapable of separating work from home, our public lives from our private lives.

It is time that we rein in our phones and computers and reconquer our free time.

As I have written in years past, a non-profit think-tank called “Reboot” has organized a “National Day of Unplugging” on which people who are constantly “plugged in” are asked to “unplug.” Reboot, which reimagines ways that Judaism can be revitalized, deliberately chose Shabbat as the day on which we should disconnect our cellphones, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers, and reconnect with the people who are important to us, with the synagogue, with Judaism, and with God. This “National Day of Unplugging” will occur on Shabbat, March 4-5, 2016. I encourage you to participate. In fact, this is our Mitzvah of the Month – to unplug from your electronic communications devices on Shabbat, March 4th-5th and/or one other Shabbat during the month of March.

This is what Reboot and I suggest: When Shabbat begins at 5:33 p.m. on Friday, March 3rd, turn off your cellphone, your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop, and your computer. That means no making or receiving phone calls, no texting, no photographing, no emailing, no reading or posting social media messages (i.e., no Tweeting, no Facebookinging, etc.). It means relating to your family and friends on a personal level, without any distractions. It means enjoying free time without interruption. It means recapturing your own personal time and space without disturbance. It means focusing your energy on the important values in your life. It means freeing yourself from the potential tyranny of technology. It means recapturing your humanness, and not surrendering yourself to machines. It means proclaiming your freedom.
And for us Jews it means reconnecting with God, Judaism, and the synagogue.
You can turn on your phones and computers when Shabbat ends, at 6:33 Saturday evening.

Trust me: as a Shabbat observer who turns off his cellphone and computer every Shabbat, it is a pleasure not to be bombarded by phone calls, text messages, and emails one day a week.
I strongly urge you to participate in the “National Day of Unplugging,” and I encourage you to participate in this Mitzvah of the Month (“MOM”).
One further suggestion: Reboot has created an app called “Friday by Reboot.” I suggest that you download it to your smartphone (the app is free). Every Friday afternoon, the app will tell you what time Shabbat begins, remind you to unplug, and provide you with a spiritually moving story and questions to ponder during Shabbat. The app has received excellent reviews, and can become an enlightening and inspiring part of your week.

Remember: in the Kiddush prayer which we recite on Shabbat and festivals we acknowledge that God gave us the gift of Shabbat and the holidays not only as a reminder of Creation, but also as a celebration of God’s liberating us from enslavement by the Egyptians. Given the fact that Passover, the holiday which celebrates that freedom, falls next month, how appropriate it is for all of us to liberate ourselves from our enslavement to our communication devices by disconnecting ourselves from our cell phones and computers on Shabbat, March 4-5, the “National Day of Unplugging” and beyond.

Written by Rabbi Ronald Androphy

East Meadow Jewish Center

“Look Up”

By Steve Goldbloom

You can’t learn anything new if you’re doing all the talking. Ditto for sharing and bragging online.

Like most people, I look and seem more fun on the Internet.

Have you ever considered how many hours per week we devote to filters, tags, likes, shares and other virtual currencies of validation?

I barely remember who I was before mobile technology – or more specifically how I killed time between moments.

I miss the collected sense of imagination that comes from being bored.

‘Being bored,’ seems a lost art form now. The same goes for observing and listening. I mean really listening to people, especially strangers.

I miss being scared at parties without the aid of a gadget to look busy.

My parents used to forbid me to go to a friend’s house and play video games. Now kids stay in and watch people they’ve never met play video games.

When did sharing an experience become more valuable than experiencing it?

If you say technology has created a culture of convenience – I get that – but you have to admit, it has turned us into an odd bunch.

The other day I had double park my Prius C for a minute so I flicked on the four way flashers and pulled over. In seconds, a strange woman opened the door and piled into the back seat.

I looked at her in disbelief. She looked up from her phone and said “Oh, you’re not the Uber”. “No”, I said. “I am not Uber”.

Next time, I think I’ll keep going, if only to see who breaks first.

Steve Goldbloom is a writer, producer, and performer based in Los Angeles. 

A Week Without a Phone

unnamedFor the past couple of months my husband and I have been looking for a new home in Portland, Oregon. We have been running all over town, usually with two kids in tow, with our very patient realtor (who thankfully is also our close friend) hoping to find our next domestic adventure, at least in regards to homeownership.  As we search for “something new,” and our friend and realtor encourages us to “prioritize our needs” with respect to our new home, I am compelled to picture our future life.  I am finding myself living more and more in a state of what could be rather than what is.  

Unplug with filmmaker Dominic White

1. How did you get involved in Unplugging?

I  started unplugging because I wanted to give my mind an opportunity to do what it does best: create. Because we are constantly plugged in there is a tendency to just imitate what we are experiencing online and on our devices. Our brains are so marvelous and mysterious I think its often better to let them run free and take us to places we would never have imagined…or experienced online.


2. What do you do when you unplug?

I usually dedicate my unplug time to writing. A few times a year I dedicate and entire Saturday to hanging out at various cafes, coffee shops and eateries reading short stories and nothing else. Some of my best unplug time is lounging on my couch, in the dark, getting lost in some great music.


3. What is the most overrated piece of modern technology?

Although the smartphone is probably the most irritating, I find Twitter to not only be overrated but it has also proven to be an excellent way for a few off-handedly typed words to cause embarrassment on an international scale and ruin careers.


4. Do you make unplugging a regular practice?  If so, How?

I try very hard to make unplugging a regular practice though I don’t always succeed. One of the most successful methods that works along with getting exercise is making sure I fit in 30 minutes of walking either in my neighborhood or at the beach towards the end of the day. It ends the night on a positive note and gets me prepared to sleep.


5. Any plans for the next NDU?

If Digital Detox hosts Unplug LA in 2016 I will be there for sure waiting to get my face painted.


6. If you could unplug and spend with one person for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?

For one hour, just before sunset, I would head to the beach with my “unexpected surprise” and while enjoying some good conversation, listen to the ocean as the sky turns orange, pink and purple.



DOMINIC H. WHITE is an award winning filmmaker whose love of motion pictures started when his mother began taking him to the drive-in as a kid. Dominic is the creator of DSKNKTD a film that explores the impact of digital communication technology on face-to-face communication. He has received various awards over the course of his career including a New York City Emmy nomination for a PSA series he co-wrote and directed. He loves snowboarding, Maine Coon cats and sunflower seeds.



#Unplug with UCLA


By: Brooklyn Michalowicz

As our community time traveled back into the 1920s for Shabbat Unplugged at UCLA, we celebrated with great friends, endless conversation, and delicious Martinellis. The night began with “bouncers” at the door handing out invitations (AKA the Reboot flyers mentioning “Ways to Unplug”) that would allow each of our guests into dinner. Services were swinging as our rabbinical intern and student leader jammed out on guitar, singing a mixture of Hebrew prayers and Matisyahu hits. The evening continued in the lounge as students played cards (supplied by Reboot) and complimented one another on their “throwback” outfits. Women came wearing a variety of flapper-esque apparel ranging from headbands with feathers to fringes and tassels.

Dinner began at 7pm with student leaders (including myself!) leading blessings and hosting tables. Soup was brought to each table, followed by a delicious dinner in a phone-free environment! The conversations and laughter lasted for hours as our Jewish Bruin community grew in countless ways. As someone who put lots of time and effort into this event and had immense support from each member of her community, I am so proud of the meaningful Jewish experience we were able to provide with the help of Shabbat Unplugged.