An Unexpected Shabbat

Stand for Israel  |  August 30, 2021

Israeli PM Bennett in Washington for Shabbat in August 2021
(Photo: twitter/israelipm)

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrived in the United States for a planned summit with President Biden. However, the deadly terrorist blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, delayed the meeting, as well as PM Bennett’s departure and Shabbat. The Times of Israel’s diplomatic reporter Lazar Berman reports on the time spent during Shabbat:

Anyone who has served in the IDF knows the deep-seated dread of unexpectedly “closing Shabbat” — staying on base for the Sabbath. Having an anticipated weekend leave snatched away, after what may have been a long stretch of the dusty drudgery that military service entails, ramps up both anxiety — maybe I can still make it home? — and depression.

The advisers, security detail, and journalists who accompanied Naftali Bennett on his first United States trip as prime minister were years, or decades, away from their army stints. They were expecting a tidy two-day visit in which Bennett would forge a personal connection with US President Joe Biden, meet with his top advisers, and come to broad understandings on Iran, visa waivers, and military aid.

But they surely had not forgotten that plans can change abruptly…

We were going to spend Shabbat stuck in our (very nice) hotel, forbidden to go outside in order to maintain our coronavirus “capsule” and thereby avoid an extended quarantine back in Israel.

Within minutes, some members of the delegation were frantically calling their spouses to tell them to take the kids to the grandparents for Shabbat. The religious journalists began inquiring about whether the Israeli Embassy would be providing Shabbat food, and sent feelers out to Bennett’s staff to see if there would be a minyan and whether we would be able to secure a Torah scroll…