This week, host Ambereen Khan sits down with award-winning broadcast filmmaker Martin Dobleimer to discuss his latest public television documentary, Sabbath: An Ancient Practice Meets the Modern World.
The two-hour film explores the origins of the ancient Sabbath ritual that obligates rest from labor one day each week. Interpreted and observed in a variety of ways across the Abrahamic traditions, the film not-so-subtly interrogates what happens when societies do not prioritize rest.
In conversation with scholars, theologians, and spiritual leaders, the film offers a deep dive into the history of how this Old Testament scriptural mandate has previously been integrated into public life, reinforced by regulations known as Blue Laws. Many of these began in England as a way of enforcing the observance of the Christian Sabbath dating back to the 13th century.
The film was inspired by COVID stay-at-home public health mandates and the influential Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s essays on the sanctity of Sabbath culture.
Dobleimer set out to uncover how modernization has whisked away old norms dedicated to sacred rest, to where we now operate in an “always on” culture that centers productivity.
Now, as the summer winds down, giving way to the tumult of back-to-school events and back-to-work deadlines, Dobleimer hopes the documentary will lead to deeper conversations about the value of intentional rest to rejuvenate an overstressed nation.