Keeping holy time : embracing Sabbath as a life practice at Princeton University.

Date of Award


Document Type



Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


This project seeks to explore if it is possible for undergraduate students at a highly selective Ivy League University to embrace Sabbath as a life practice amid the pervasive culture of academic, emotional, and social stress to achieve. Princeton University is an institution that espouses the highest standards of intellectual excellence. Chartered in 1746, Princeton University is the fourth oldest university in the United States of America. Princeton is a member of the exclusive Ivy League circle, and recognized as a world-renowned research University with a special emphasis on undergraduate education. Students that compete successfully to be admitted to this highly selective private institution of higher education are considered to be the best and brightest students from around the world. Admission into the number one ranking University in the nation according to U. S. News and World Reports since 2000 for eleven straight years and tied for the number one spot twice, Princeton University is both academically competitive as well as academically challenging as it regards the intellectual rigor and volume of the scholastic workload. Academic excellence is a hallmark of a Princeton education, and coupled with the particularly high standard of excellence is the ever-present reality of an extreme culture of stress and critical pressure to succeed. The purpose of this project thesis is to examine the significance of Sabbath in the lives of students, and if the practice of Sabbath (the call to unplug) allowed them to be rebooted for a greater good and purpose. Eighteen students representing both the Christian and Jewish traditions were interviewed for forty-five minutes to one hour to talk about the culture of stress, searching for the soul, and their identity as keepers of holy time. Each interview served as a unique Sabbath opportunity to exhale and allow each interviewee to catch a breath in the midst of the harried and hurried existence sometimes experienced as a college student striving to balance the inevitable and multi-taskable busyness of life.