I started my first Shabbat experience in Israel just as God did, by sleeping in. This was our only day on the trip so far that we had free time in the morning, so curing my jet lag was my first priority. Plus I didn’t have to feel bad since, after all, it was the day of rest. I woke up, ate lunch, and was told we would be hearing a talk from a political science professor from Hebrew University (cue exaggerated sigh). I hate politics so I knew the hour we had with him would be comparable to American politics complete with big words and superficial bullshit. Professor Reuven Hazan introduced himself and changed my mind about Israeli politics within the first few sentences. Not because of what he said or even the way he said it. It was the look in his eye that sold his passion for Israel, as if he was talking about his own child. It was a look I’ve never seen in American politics. I was engaged for the full hour and truly enjoyed learning about Israel’s political system. I won’t get into too much detail but the main take away was that Israeli and American politics are night and day. Israel’s priority being national security and American priority being economics. Don’t believe American press’ portrayal of Israeli politics.
After the talk we had a bit of free time then hopped on the bus for a trip to Ben-Yehuda street. First point of business….shawarma. The guy at the restaurant pranked me by handing me my meal through a glass window to which I reached for it only jam my hand on the window. Nobody saw that, right? Good. I paid, ate, and declared shawarma superior to falafel. Next I bought some t-shirts at the market, including my new favorite dad shirt (aka Hawaiian shirt).
Some other things to note about Shabbat in Israel is that the whole city of Jerusalem was almost shut down. Stores closed, no cars, and no electronics, except for us Americans of course. I’ll leave you with one more observation. I remember looking out my window after I woke up on Saturday and seeing families spending time with each other. Kids on the playground, families on walks, and good old futbol on the parking garage roof. Moral of the story, taking one day out of seven days to relax and spend time with loved ones can do no harm. As my new friend A.J tells me, Shabbat is all about de-stressing.