“Before & After the Shomer Shabbos Movement in the 1900s”


Tune: ראש חודש כסלו ניגון

From across the sea 

From persecution and poverty

Jews came to America, the “golden Medina”

Though there was money

It was spiritual danger for Jewry


With few religious leaders, assimilation

Among the Jewish nation

With very few Rabbis to help them stay strong

Shabbos in America, a battle fought so long

That’s why the Rabbis, knowing the spiritual danger, mostly didn’t come along


If you had a job and on Shabbos you didn’t come in

The boss would fire you on whim

And job two it’ll be, only if you’re lucky

But even if for only a short time, to keep Shabbos you did continue

Your reputation would proceed you.


Every boss will think, “No way

“I wouldn’t hire one who skips Saturday!”

No welfare programs during then

Unemployed, in the snowy streets

You could be frozen


In the following story, we see

As Jew in America, what life would be

A family from Europe came to the USA

And the common scenario did replay


Not attending work on Shabbos, they were fired on Monday

And fired from other jobs that same way

Eventually no one wanted to hire him

He had no money to bring in


So his owner kicked him out, for not paying his rent

And to the snowy streets he could’ve been sent

But the owner had mercy

And let the coal cellar be a house for the family

But the coal cellar wasn’t a palace, it was a sacrifice

That the Parnes’s family made for Yiddishkeit


As it was a dusty cellar, the children, black did become

The father peddled goods to barely feed everyone

One day a rich, unobservant Jew saw a find

That blew his mind


He saw black kids playing ball, and Yiddish they did talk

He spoke aloud his thoughts as he did walk

“Not black but Jewish,” Yissachar’le did say

He said “Bring your father here, right away”

Offered lots of bucks for housing, but Parnes refused

‘Cause money earned on Shabbos couldn’t be used


After consulting with his wife, they agreed

They wouldn’t accept the rich man’s money they did need

Biston, the rich man, ranted to his wife

About the ungrateful man in his life

“That crazy Galician greenhorn who didn’t take a cent”

Then suddenly he saw his wife about to faint


Mrs. Biston whispered these fateful words

“We also used to be Galician nerds

When we first, in America came

In us, too, burnt the Shomer Shabbos flame


“We used to be so strong

But it didn’t last long

Money became scarce, so we decided to

Break Shabbos ’cause we had no revenue”


Mr.Biston, touched by the words of his Eishes Chayil

Said, “We’ll face this Nisayon, this trial”

He told the Parnes, “From now on, we’ll keep Shabbos

Just buy a house and take the money from us”


The Parnes still nobly said no

Because although

Biston’s decision was good, it was still not kosher gelt

The bills were earned on Shabbos, and forbidden, he felt

“Go earn some money keeping Shabbos, and then I’ll be glad

To accept the money I need so bad”


The biggest miracle happened; he worked, though Shabbos kept

The Parnes, and money did he get

With the money, he bought a two-story heim [Yid. “house”]

Used one floor for a Shul that is known with fame

Established ‘Parnes Shul,’ and on the other floor lived there

But the story doesn’t end here


Decades later, Parnes’s descendant headed a community in Atlanta

Saw from-out-of–town Bochurim from Yeshiva

Asked if they needed anything, after davening

They said, “It’s not just three of us, but four, travelling

Our friend unsure about the Mechitza here, didn’t come”


The Parnes’s descendant said, “Who is this one?”

Then discovered to be Biston’s grandson

The Parnes said, “Say the Mechitza’s Kosher, and to our shul, welcome”

The two embraced and treasured

The self-sacrifice of their ancestors that can’t be measured


During that challenging time, how they battled the fight

And kept burning the Shabbos light 

אם אשמרה שבת ק-ל ישמרני

[“If I keep Shabbos G-d will protect me”]

Rose believed, “If I keep Shabbos, Shabbos will keep me”


She didn’t go to work on Shabbos to her factory

Though knew if she skipped work the pink slip she’d see

Our keeping Shabbos gives us safety from Higher

Rose was saved from the infamous Shirtwaist Factory fire

She could’ve with the rest of her building been burnt

If she’d have gone to work


כל השומר את השבת כאילו מקיים כל התורה

וכל המחלל את השבת כאילו כופר בכל התורה כולה

[“Whoever guards the Shabbos is as if he fulfills the entire Torah

And whoever desecrates the Shabbos is as if he denies the Torah in its entirety”]

It was hard for Jews to even have their own businesses

As they wouldn’t have financial advantages

For while their competitors worked seven days

They took off Saturdays


Once they started working on Saturday

Assimilation was underway

That’s why keeping Shabbos is like keeping the entire Torah

And breaking Shabbos is like Kefira


בחסדי ה [“in G-d’s kindness”], Sabbath alliance and labour unions did form

Henry Ford in ’26 first made five-day workweeks the norm

And Baruch Hashem, today burns the Shabbos light

Ability to keep Shabbos freely, not worrying about Parnassa every night


If we keep two Shabbosos we will be

Redeemed  form Golus immediately

שאלמלא שמרו ישראשתי שבתות היו נגאלין

[“That if Israel had kept two Shabbosos, we would have been redeemed”]

And we won’t have to sacrifice anymore to keep the Shabbos Din