A typical tour of Israel generally includes a visit to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, an ascent to the heights of Masada, and a descent to the lowest place on earth for a relaxing float in the Dead Sea. And an Israel tour would be incomplete without a visit to the Holy City of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is neither a modern city nor a city known for its nightlife, but rather, an ancient city that has been revitalized over the past one hundred years by the citizens that dwell in her midst. The draw of Jerusalem is in its being the spiritual capital of the world.
Jerusalem was not built in a day and it is impossible to properly visit this marvelous city in a short period of time. One can easily spend three to four days just visiting the Old City of Jerusalem; The Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, The City of David, the ancient tunnel tours and so on. The unique religious hub of Jerusalem can easily captivate travelers for days on end.
Beyond The Stones of The Past
As fascinating as it is to tour the ancient structures of Jerusalem, which literally span the millennia, many tourists to Israel long to connect with the local people and to experience the local culture. With the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel over the course of the past 150 years, Israel has once again become the land of the Jewish people with Jerusalem at its center and a unique Jewish culture.
One aspect of the Jewish culture which cannot be ignored by any traveler to the Holy Land, is the weekly observance of the Sabbath. Every Friday afternoon in Israel stores begin to close and by sunset streets become nearly deserted. The Sabbath day begins at sunset on Friday evening and the people of Israel participate in an ancient tradition that they have practiced since its inception as a nation.
The Sabbath Experience
Many tourists are caught off guard as the stores, museums, cafés, and restaurants close up one by one on Friday afternoon and often find themselves wondering what is happening, as if some big holiday is about to occur. Some tourists manage to find options to continue to explore and enjoy their vacation by visiting the Arab sectors of the city that are open on the Sabbath day, however, many spend Friday evening and Saturday idly passing their time in a park or just hanging out in their hostel or hotel.
As a result of this weekly phenomena in Israel, tourists have become curious about the Jewish practice of the Sabbath and have found a welcome solution to the limited options offered to them during the 24 hours of the Sabbath by participating in a new forum on Friday evenings. Daniel Goldstein, an Israeli Jew who teaches about the traditions of Judaism and how they connect to Christianity, saw the need to provide an option for tourists visiting Israel and established “The Sabbath Experience” in 2011 to help meet this need.
The Sabbath Experience takes place each Friday evening in a home in Jerusalem giving tourists a step by step inside look at the traditional Sabbath celebration with all of the songs, blessings, and foods of the Sabbath. Outside of the unique cultural insights which are gleaned by sitting around the table, participants are given the chance to meet other travelers and connect with visitors and locals alike.
If you are planning to visit Israel in the near future, checkout the Sabbath Experience in Jerusalem and don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to connect with the ancient Jewish culture and the Jewish people in the Land of the Bible. To learn more about The Sabbath Experience, visit the Jewels of Judaism website.
In his first book on the subject of the Sabbath ‘Practicing the Sabbath with Community‘ Daniel Goldstein has provided an in-depth manual of how to practically live out a weekly day of rest within a community setting.Share this page with your friends
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