At 6:00pm we gathered in a nearby park to welcome Shabbat together with songs and prayers. At 6:52 we sat quietly and listened to the cry of a siren announcing the arrival of Shabbat in Jerusalem. After the siren we sang some more and then slowly made our way to dinner and an evening of relaxing together in the spirit of Shabbat.
Shabbat has descended on Jerusalem. The city is quieter. The people on the streets are wandering to and from shul. Heading home, heading to dinner with friends, enjoying the warm evening air. For 25 hours they’re letting go of their to do lists, their grievances, their aspirations, and everything else that fills the other 24/6 of life. They’re breathing a little easier. Dedicating time to family, friends, and self. They’re turning off alarm clocks and taking it easy. Jerusalem is at its finest on Shabbat.
This morning we visited Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust Museum) and Har Hertzl (Israel’s National Cemetery). There’s no way to shield the kids from the stark truths of these sites. Fortunately, they don’t visit Yad Vashem and Har Hertzl on their own. They visit these sites with their classmates and their teachers. These visit these sites after many years of Jewish Studies and Jewish living. These visit these sites to declare that Hitler failed and that the men and women buried on Har Hertzl did not die in vain. We visit these sites yes, to learn and to honor the unfathomable sacrifice, but also to testify to the fact of Am Yisrael Chai.
If you look back at the last week in pictures and blog posts, you’ll surely agree that our kids have earned their Shabbat. By wearing them out over the course of the week, we’ve subtly evoked in them a yearning for Shabbat. They can’t wait to sleep in. They can’t wait to have a cup of tea over breakfast. They can’t wait to take a leisurely walk, have a picnic lunch, and then go even deeper into the slowed down pace of Shabbat. For thousands of years the Jewish people have treated Shabbat like a precious gift. Bestowing upon one another. Sharing in it. Cherishing it. Tonight and tomorrow your children will enjoy this gift perhaps more fully than ever before. If you want to live vicariously, you can do the same back home in Atlanta!