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Shabbat in Jerusalem

Posted on 07/30/2011 @ 03:28 PM

There’s nothing like Shabbat in Jerusalem. The city shuts down and everyone embraces the concept of rest. This held true for our group as we took pleasure in resting from our intensive week. This Shabbat was quite different from the one we spent in Tel Aviv. Although we had a good amount of free time to take leisurely strolls and take a dip in the pool at the Inbal Hotel, we also had some programming that completed our Shabbat experience.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Rabbi Shlomo Fox from Hebrew Union College, who led us in the discussion of the Parsha Ha’Shavua. The parsha was Masei and discussed the various travels of the Israelites. Rabbi Fox framed the discussion through the lens of a tourist. It was interesting to think about how we have travelled through  and across Israel for the last two weeks and have felt more than  just as tourists. We have been able to get to know the people that live here and the dilemmas that they face every day. This is something we can relate to our ancestors as they got to know the people that they came across as they travelled through the desert on their way to the Promised Land.

Our Shabbat continued with a walking tour of some Jerusalem neighborhoods lead by Elan Ezrachi. He gave us a brief history of the development of Jerusalem as a modern city. We walked through the oldest new neighborhood, outside the Old City, where Elan described the growth patterns among Jews, Arabs and Christians in Jerusalem after World War I and during the British Mandate. It was compelling to hear that Jerusalem was developed as a modern city once the British had control since they utilized modern city planning. We then walked to Mamilla, the open-air pedestrian mall leading up to the Jaffa Gate. There, we were able to see where the border between Jordan and Israel stood between 1948 and 1967. It was mind-blowing to see how small the city was when it was  divided.

Our final Shabbat in Israel together, concluded with a rousing Havdallah in a park that was overlooking the Old City. The Havdallah was even more memorable as we heard celebratory fireworks (possibly gunfire) from a nearby Arab neighborhood celebrating a wedding. As Shabbat came to a close, we prepared to head south to the Negev to see how it has bloomed, according to Ben-Gurion’s dream.

Justin Pollack and Ben Kozberg

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