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Tanya Schevitz's picture

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Whenever I ponder of the excess of technology in today’s society, I think of a posting on my friend’s Facebook page complaining that her kids were driving her crazy as they waited in line for ice cream. It seemed obvious to me why her kids were acting up--they wanted her to stop the constant mobile uploads and pay attention to them.

Our children, our partners, our friends, and our community are crying out for us to lift our eyes from our smartphones and unplug the earphones to reconnect with each other off-line.

This is why the organization I work for created the National Day of Unplugging in 2010, and is again organizing a day of rest from technology from sundown March 4 to sundown March 5, 2011.

As a mom with a “to do” list a mile long, including long-overdue hand written thank you notes --  (because in my family an email or phone call does NOT cut it,) I know that most people will have plenty to do while unplugged.

Shutting off technology allows people the time to pause and realize what they are missing when they are Facebooking, Tweeting, texting and emailing. Although we are creating connections online, we are missing out on tuning in to our families, friends and the world around us.

I hope you’ll consider signing off from technology for the National Day of Unplugging March 4-5.  The NDU’s goal of unplugging to encourage a healthy and balanced lifestyle is rooted in the ancient notion of a day of rest.   Although the NDU was inspired by a group of young Jews looking for a way to reinvent the Jewish Sabbath, it is intended for all people regardless of background -- we believe that everyone needs a day of rest!

You can sign up for the movement and receive ideas for how to unplug with your family at

Put your cell phone to sleep

The first NDU last March reached tens of millions of people internationally. And it resonated with people of all backgrounds, from Catholic to Buddhist and Muslim. Since then, unplugging has become the movement of the moment, with everyone from the New York Times to Arianna Huffington focusing attention on our overly plugged-in society.

The NDU is guided by Reboot’s Sabbath Manifesto (, an ongoing project that encourages people to slow down their lives by embracing its 10 principles once a week: Avoid Technology; Connect With Loved Ones; Nurture Your Health; Get Outside; Avoid Commerce; Light Candles; Drink Wine; Eat Bread; Find Silence; Give Back.

The NDU puts in practice “Avoid Technology,” the first of Ten Principles that are the core of the Sabbath Manifesto.  We hope people will adapt and interpret the Sabbath Manifesto’s principles into their own lives and that over time new rituals will emerge. We have developed a special cell phone sleeping bag so people can tuck their cell phones away comfortably.

This year the NDU offers some special partnerships to help you and your family if you need activities to keep you busy while you’re unplugging!

The Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Jewish Museum in New York City, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia are offering special deals for the 2011 National Day of Unplugging (NDU) to those who tuck their phones into a special cell phone sleeping bag when they walk in the door. And, the Web’s most popular volunteering network, is highlighting service opportunities to encourage NDU participants to “Unplug and Give Back” with one of its 75,000 participating nonprofit organizations.

Try unplugging with your family and let us know how it felt:

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