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The 30-Day Jewish Challenge

The 30-Day Jewish Challenge

Are you up for the challenge?


This week the Wall Street Journal had a piece on "The Lure of 30-Day Challenges: Better Abs and More:"

The 30-day exercise challenge is increasingly popular, especially as an alternative to New Year's resolutions, which often fail this time of year. The pitch is to stick with a commitment for a month...Thirty-day challenges push people to chase goals big and small, from cutting out soda to writing a novel...Internet searches for "30 day challenge" have climbed 140% since 2013, according to Google. Gyms and yoga studios offer them as a way to win customers, hoping that a 30-day stint will turn into a habit. Some 30-day challenges were one-off experiments, including not watching TV and cutting out sugar.

The article got me thinking; why don't we create a 30-Day Challenge for Jewish things like mitzvot to help Jewish people undertake a new level of commitment? After all, Judaism is not an all or nothing religion. Whatever steps a person takes to follow the mitzvot, no matter what level or station of life they are at, that is always a plus and to be applauded and celebrated. If you don’t observe Shabbat but decide to light candles, then good for you! That’s a great positive step. Doing that one thing is better than doing nothing. Judaism is a journey that is taken one step at a time.

The genius of the 30-Day Challenge is that it allows people to see and taste what something is like without being intimidated by the scary and overwhelming idea of a wholesale lifestyle change. It is a first, very meaningful step to get a good sense of what it would be like to incorporate a particular area of improvement and growth in a person's life.

There are many opportunities to use this technique to take yourself to the next level of commitment to Judaism. The 30-Day No Shell-Fish Challenge. The 30-Day Tefillin Challenge (it would include a weekly rest period since you don’t put them on during Shabbat). The 30-Day Shabbat Challenge could offer someone the ability to keep a full Shabbat for one month, or maybe the 30-Day No Cell-Phone-on-Shabbat Challenge to commit to not using your iPhone for the entire Shabbat day, from Friday night until Saturday night, for a month. The 30-Day Learn-Torah Challenge could be accomplished by reading a different article on or a 5 minutes a day reading from a Jewish book. The possibilities are endless. (I would be happy to hear your suggestions and/or commitments to your 30-Day Jewish Challenge in the comment section below.)

In fact I think this 30-Day Challenge concept has its origins in Judaism. We have recently begun the Hebrew month of Adar which is famous for joy and happiness. The Rabbis in the Talmud declare, "When the month of Adar begins, we increase joy." This was the first historical 30-Day Challenge where a full month was dedicated to a particular improvement in our lives. A full month where I will focus on happiness every day.

So let’s utilize the power of Adar and take the 30-Day Challenge of Joy and Happiness. Wake up each morning for the next 30 days and declare loud and clear, "Thank God I am alive!" You never know; this may even spread beyond 30 days and impact your whole year.

February 20, 2016

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Visitor Comments: 16

(12) Anonymous, February 25, 2016 5:46 AM

I love this idea

Im a teacher, i hope we can introduce this idea in school!

(11) SusanE, February 23, 2016 6:14 PM

Judaism is so Beautiful, Why is a Challenge Needed?

I began about 10 years ago. I wouldn't call it a challenge, but what I had was a strong feeling that I needed to learn something about being a Jew. I don't have a kosher kitchen, so basic food cleanliness and separation was how I ate. Attended Reform services nearby. Gave charity. Prayed daily. Learned Hebrew. Attended Torah classes, as I'm a woman it was Reform Rabbi. Observed Shabbat. Used Aish for Torah Portions and ask the Rabbi and videos. Celebrated all Holidays.- - - Then as I studied more, I learned that I'm not considered a Jew ( my Fathers family is) I was told (by Orthodox) that doing things that only a Jew should do, I was in mortal danger of offending G-d. I've still been observing and studying for the past 10 years, to a lesser degree. It simply feels right. That message about offending G-d is a frightening thought. I feel so strongly the need to do this, that I can't begin to imagine why Jews would need to have a 30 Day Challenge to become more observant.

Anonymous, February 24, 2016 12:44 AM

How Sad

I remember reading in Scripture "Who has known the mind of G-d or who has been His counsellor?" Apparently you have met that person, for someone has told you that 10 years of study & observance have offended G-d because you are not good enough to be acceptable. I consider G-d to be all Wisdom, all Beauty, all Love. Continue your observance, secure in the knowledge that G-d is kinder than that small minded person who was actually saying that you ought not to consider yourself as good as he/she is.

(10) Anonymous, February 23, 2016 4:53 PM


thirty days including Shabbat to make it more meaningful especially if there r children at home Give them memories to take with them that will give them chizuk to go in the right derech

(9) Dorothy, February 22, 2016 8:06 PM

What a good plan.

What a good idea. I am going to do the morning prayer and one more thing weekly. This approach is so doable. Usually the big changes fade away, but I like this approach. Thank you.

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