Shabbat Shalom

We enjoyed our very first Shabbat last night and will continue with a sleeping city until this evening at sunset. What a beautiful thing it is, to have everything close and an entire country focus on family, friends and fellowship. Even Anis, who is Arab, has an appreciation and respect for this tradition. It's also the perfect time to see the city as everyone is in their homes or synagogues and you can walk the streets without fear of traffic, as traveling any other way than foot is forbidden to the Jews. It begins with a loud siren heard throughout the city as sunset Friday night approaches. The hustle and bustle of a Friday afternoon is insane as everyone rushes to make their final purchases before sundown. Once the siren sounds, there is silence. Only the sound of birds and the occasional stray cat wandering the alleys is heard. We were exhausted from our long, sleepless flight, so we stayed in and Allie made a fantastic meal while Anis let his excellent hookah skills shine. After a few hours, you begin to hear laughter and song throughout the neighborhoods. Anis and Ben went to an Arab cafe (sorry, no girls allowed) so Allie and I went for an evening stroll. Perfect weather, not cold, not hot, just fantastically perfect. She lives on Mishkenot St, downtown, so there are very orthodox neighborhoods around. Neighbors downstairs have even asked her to turn their lights on for them on Shabbat because they're not allowed to flip a switch because it changes the state of the world. We strolled through amazingly beautiful stone streets laced with vines and flowers and I kept thinking to myself that this has to be the completed set of a movie...I can't believe she actually lives here. We went to visit her school and see her classroom and where she spends most of her life, on the way passing joyful Jewish celebrations and seeing everyone dressed in their traditional Shabbat clothing. I didn't bring the camera, some things are just too serene to snap. Windows are left open and the light from Shabbat meals light the pathways. Song is heard everywhere. Out of tune, wonderful, beautiful song. Think 'Fiddler on the Roof' and then multiply it by about one hundred and you've got the idea. I wonder what our families back home might change into if they were required to spend one evening a week together in joyful celebration. It's like Christmas every Friday and it's law that you celebrate it!


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