SXSW Participants Unplug on Shabbat at SXSW | Shalom Austin

SXSW Participants Unplug on Shabbat at SXSW

Community News, The Jewish Outlook

May 19, 2022

People enjoy challah bread during a SXSW Shabbat at Moishe House. Photo credit: Wendy Goodman


By Allison Teegardin

Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, founder of New York based Tech Tribe, an affiliate of Chabad Young Professionals which brings together a community of young Jewish professionals in the tech and digital industry, and his wife, Chana, Head of Operations at Tech Tribe, hosted the 10th #openShabbat at SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 11, 2022, at the Austin Hilton Downtown. The event was free to registered participants.

Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, founder of New York based Tech Tribe

Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone. Photo credit: Yael Mal

The event formally began at 7:30 pm where a kosher dinner and beer was served to more than 300 guests attending. However, the unofficial start began in the hallway outside the banquet room where Rabbi Mendy Levertov of Chabad Young Professionals Austin led people in prayer as they welcomed in Shabbat as the sun set on the city. Everyone, regardless of affiliation or SXSW badge, was welcomed at this networking and celebratory event.

As he welcomed the crowd, Rabbi Lightstone said, “Tonight, we bring together digital sojourners who are always connected and invite them to unplug and connect in person.” One attendee, Shoshi Kaganovsky, attended #openShabbat for the first time and did just that. She says the experience was a great way to kick off the SXSW experience. “It’s nice seeing a Jewish gathering outside of Israel,” Kaganovsky said. “It gives me the feeling of being at home.”

Rabbi Lightstone plans to return to SXSW in 2023. To learn more about Tech Tribe and #openShabbat visit

The following week, Moishe House in Austin hosted a free Shabbat with Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, né Rami Even-Esh, who led the group in prayers and songs. Young Jewish adults gathered at the Tarrytown house and served pizza, cookies, vegetable trays, and of course challah to guests. Described as a place where people can creatively and collaboratively explore modern day Judaism, Moishe House welcomes new friends at its monthly events. To learn more, contact


Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, né Rami Even-Esh, leads a Shabbat st Moishe House in Austin, Texas

Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz, né Rami Even-Esh, leads a group in Shabbat prayers and songs at Moishe House in Austin, Texas. Photo credit: Wendy Goodman.


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