What's in it to #Unplug

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.

Shane Hankins