The Jewish Sabbath was just hours away when Commack, N.Y., resident Peggy Coburn heard her doorbell ring. When she opened the door, she was greeted by neighbors, the smell of freshly-baked challah, and a package containing candles, grape juice and a guide on Shabbat observance. For her, the delivery from her local Chabad-Lubavitch center was an eye-opener.

“Conventional wisdom says that you can’t expect [anything] to come knocking on your door” anymore, she explained. “Then my doorbell rang. Shabbat came knocking at my door in the form of two friendly faces bringing me Shabbat in a bag.

“It sounds corny, but to me, it felt like a miracle.”

Throughout this past spring, volunteers fanned out weekly across this portion of Long Island as part of the I Love Shabbat program run by Rabbis Mendel Teldon, director of Chabad of Mid-Suffolk, and Chaim Grossbaum, director of Chabad of Stony Brook. Conceived by local resident Mark Teitelbaum during a brainstorming session with Teldon on how to reach families in the area, the distributions brought spiritual care packages to more than 1,500 households.

Challah triggers a lot of good feelings, good memories,” said Teitelbaum, who came up with the idea when he remembered the nostalgia triggered years ago when Teldon gave him loaves of the hand-baked bread. “We wanted to give these families a chance to reconnect with Shabbat through these packages.”

Each week, organizers collected 100 family names from nominations from past recipients and local listings. They sent postcards notifying their selections of the impending deliveries and at the end of the week, volunteers took the packages to each address. Recipients were also directed to a website where they could learn more about observing the holy day, submit feedback, and even enter a raffle for a four-night stay at the Miami Hilton Hotel.

Many noted how the program brought them together as a family.

“The program really made us more cognizant that it was Friday night, that Shabbat is here and that it is something to be celebrated as a joint activity, as a family,” said Melinda Moss.

The volunteers were also touched.

“It feels good to know that those 10 to 15 families I visited got a little taste of Shabbat,” said Melissa Zoly, “that they’ll shut off the television and spend some time together.”

Among the responses culled from the website was that of Karen Blacher, who described how over time, Shabbat sort of fell by the wayside as she and her husband pursued their careers. When they lived in Buffalo, she explained, they participated in weekly Shabbat meals as guests in other Jewish homes; upon moving to Stony Brook, they resolved to carry on the tradition in their own home, but the stresses of daily life got in the way.

The arrival of the Chabad House’s package, said Blacher, provided that extra “push” they needed to again celebrate the day.

“Since that night, there has not been a Friday night when my children and I don’t gather together to give charity, light the Shabbat candles and break bread together in the dining room as a family,” she detailed. “One week, we had my parents, my sister and her husband join us, and I can’t describe how wonderfully special it felt. My four-year-old son now calls our dining room table the ‘Shabbat table,’ and that feels special, too.

“I'd gotten it into my head that if you didn't have the time, energy, and knowhow to make every Shabbat dinner a feast and every Friday night a holiday, you couldn’t do Shabbat,” she continued. “The program really turned that around for me. It made me realize that Shabbat could be something simple and sustainable, and infinitely rewarding.”

According to Teldon, the campaign’s goal was to emphasize the home-based quality of Shabbat observance.

“We wanted to show these families that Judaism isn’t only celebrated with the rabbi in the synagogue,” he said, “but that Judaism can be made beautiful in your own home.”

Teitelbaum emphasized that the deliveries allowed people to approach the holy day on their terms.

“You don’t have to be intimidated or embarrassed,” he said. “It’s all done in the privacy of your own home.”

Grossbaum agreed, noting that it was more than just challah and candles.

“It’s about making a personal connection with a random act of kindness, to let them know that they are a part of one whole,” he said, “and that they, in turn, can reach out and make that connection with someone else.”