!שבת שלום

September 17, 2011

Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is considered a festive day, when a Jew is freed from the regular labors of everyday life, can contemplate the spiritual aspects of life, and can spend time with family. (via Wikipedia)


I am not Jewish. I’m barely religious at all. But being that I am here in Jerusalem, Shabbat is very present in my life. Everything shifts gears on Friday nights into Saturdays. Things shut down. The buses and trains don’t run. Stores and eateries are closed. I have to make sure I do my grocery shopping before sundown on Fridays.

Most of the other international students here are Jewish, and they each have different ways they observe Shabbat. They range many different levels of orthodoxy or progressiveness. Some people don’t use lights. Some don’t write. Other simply use Shabbat as a day you can do homework. I try to keep it in mind when I’m hanging out. It’s all very new to me.

Here’s the beautiful thing. Since my friends observe Shabbat, and all of Israel is different on Friday and Saturday, I’m given the opportunity to make it special for myself; to really define what Shabbat can mean to me. Taking a break from the work (or dance) week, I’m able to just hang out with my friends. We seem to be in the habit of making Friday night dinners. I can take time to myself to clean my room, do laundry. I can rest, reset, and revitalize.

Two weeks ago, on the Shabbaton weekend, we hiked the Gilabun Trail, visited the industrial park and photography museum at Tel-Chai, stayed at the Tel-Chai guest house/ hostel, and visited the historical sights at Bental Viewpoint/ Emek Hachula and Joseph Trumpeldor’s Monument, “The Roaring Lion.” It was a great weekend for getting to know other students. On the Saturday morning, I woke up early to see the sun rise over the Golan.



Sunrise in the Golan


Last week, one of the girls’ apartments hosted a Shabbat dinner, where everyone invited brought a different dish. There almost more people than could actually fit in the living room, but we made it work. The food was delicious, and the company was so much fun.



Alexis May preparing a perfect mango salad.


Last night, Elisa, Benny, and I made quite a good dinner. We spent hours together, just eating, enjoying music, drinking sweet rose chai, and drawing.


Drawing with Elisa and Benny

Here are the rest of the photos, mostly from the Shabbaton weekend. Are you picking up on the themes of relaxation and enjoyment?


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Well, for the rest of today, Shabbat brings laundry, catching up on a little bit of Hebrew homework, and some light chores around the apartment. I’ll also make a list of things I’ll need from the grocery. Today I’m walking down to the Old City to soak up the atmosphere and write in my journal a bit. Then in the evening, I think we’re going clubbing. Haha!


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