Sabbath week gives a much needed break

Eva Mihelich, News editor

The Sabbath is a weekly observance for people of the Jewish faith where, if practiced strictly, urges people to take days of rest from Friday evening to Saturday evening and shift all their focus to their relationship with God. They are encouraged to rest from labor of any sort and to relax, unwind, and grow spiritually. This is also practiced by Christians on Sundays, which is when mass is typically held for all denominations. Mercyhurst University celebrates a Sabbath Week each year as a way to encourage students to take some time for themselves and focus on their spiritual health. Jenell Patton, assistant director of Campus Ministry, said that this tradition was created with great intentionality.“Sabbath Week was instituted years ago as a way for our students to connect to the biblical concept of Sabbath, the importance of rest, recovery and one’s dependence upon the God of their understanding. As you may know, in Genesis, God created and on the seventh day God rested. This rest was modeled for humans to learn to take a break and restore themselves…to connect to God and the rest of Creation—humans and all of Creation,” said Patton. Students are busy in their everyday lives, particularly during the week. Weekends offer a chance for some rest and relaxation, but that is oftentimes interrupted by deadlines, essays and upcoming exams. Sabbath offers students the opportunity to try to focus on their wellbeing, which can sometimes be overlooked due to these busy schedules.“Our hope is that if we model in our programming the importance of taking a week off from our regularly scheduled programming then when people graduate from Mercyhurst, they will take the time to schedule a Sabbath break in their everyday, ordinary work lives,” said Patton. Patton also noted that Sabbath week is different from a vacation as it is intentional time away from work and school to reconnect with oneself and God’s creation if one believes in that. Even if students are not practicing any sort of religion, they are encouraged to participate in the symbolism of the Sabbath, and to intentionally devote their time and energy in a shift from work and stress that cripples our everyday lives. Michelle Scully, Campus Minister, shared that the beauty of the structure of Sabbath Week is that there is no structure.“Rather than planning additional programming, the week is actually a break from our usual scheduled programming and student leader meetings, in order for students to have some time to step back from their usual activities. We encourage the students to use this opportunity to rest or to use their time reaching out to others more intentionally,” said Scully. Consider practicing a Sabbath of your own, whether it is spending some time reading something positive before bed rather than scrolling on your phone, or intentionally pulling yourself away from the excessive stress an exam may be putting on you. Everyone deserves a break and they normally help prevent a lot of stress on students.