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The Beauty of the Sabbath in Israel

Yonit and fam at the Western Wall Author Yonit Rothchild and her family at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

I wish everyone could see what I see.

I have had this thought so many times here in Israel when I witness something particularly beautiful. I know that Israel is grossly misunderstood around the globe, so when I see the truth and beauty, I wish I could show it to everyone.

I feel this most on the Sabbath in my small town just south of Jerusalem. Almost everyone in our neighborhood observes the Sabbath which creates a most unusual and incredibly beautiful atmosphere that hardly exists anywhere else in the world.

I’ll try to describe it.

On the Sabbath, we don’t use any electricity. Lights that are on stay on, those that are off stay off. We don’t use cell phones, computers, or any other electronics. This means that the children play, and most of the year the weather permits them to play outside. We don’t drive on the Sabbath so the streets are virtually car-free.

The sight is spectacular. After synagogue services, families and friends walk in the streets and share meals. The children are free and safe to run and play. The streets are filled with their laughter as scooters, bikes, and balls zoom by. Some families picnic right in the middle of the street. Others join Bible study groups in homes. No one has anywhere to go or anything else to do – but be together and be with God.

This is my Israel. This is what I see. This is our life.

-by Yonit Rothchild, a senior writer with The Fellowship who lives in Israel 

Learn more about Jewish traditions for the Sabbath with our free Limmud study, Shabbat: A Day of Delight

Tags: Life in Israel

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