National Day of Unplugging encourages all to embrace principles of Shabbat

From sundown on March 9 to sundown on March 10, more than 50,000 people will shut their phones off and slip them into "sleeping bags" to celebrate the National Day of Unplugging.

The National Day of Unplugging encourages people to power down for 24 hours as a respite from modern technology. The day is an initiative of Reboot, a startup that reaffirms Jewish traditions and rituals while helping people carve their own Jewish paths, according to Tanya Schevitz, Reboot's national communications manager.

At events, Reboot distributes cell phone "sleeping bags" to encourage participants to put their phones away. 

"The National Day of Unplugging has roots in the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath," Schevitz said. "The practice of taking a break is familiar to Jews, but this modern day of rest was developed for people of all backgrounds as a way to bring balance to the increasingly fast-paced way of life and reclaim time to connect with family, friends, and our communities." 

While the National Day of Unplugging originates in Jewish ritual, people of all backgrounds and religions participate. The initiative has been embraced by a range of celebrities including Arianna Huffington, Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan, and Paul Reubens, according to Schevitz. 

Reboot encourages participants to abide by its 10 principles: avoid technology, connect with loved ones, nurture your health, get outside, avoid commerce, light candles, drink wine, eat bread, find silence, and give back. 

"The idea is to slow down life enough to regularly observe each of the 10 principles," Schevitz said. "The day promotes not just one day of unplugging a year, but a lifestyle change." 

Nearly 1,000 events are held across the country leading up to and to celebrate the National Day of Unplugging, including nearly a dozen in Chicago. 

"I have seen the Chicago community truly embrace and welcome the concept through so many exciting partnerships and events," said Becky Adelberg, Reboot's Chicago program coordinator.  "In today's world with so much technology to keep us distracted, it is a welcome break for so many."  

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