Shabbat and Some Magic

8:40 AM 0 Comments

Note: This was written on Motzei Shabbos this past week. It just took us a few days to get it posted.

Walking around today I was struck by the magic and quaintness of our community. This community is warm and welcoming, and friendly everyday. But Shabbat is a time when I am reminded especially of the reason we chose to move to a community like this.

A Typical Shabbat in the Yishuv

The rhythm of the week is different here than in the U.S., it is even different than in observant Jewish communities in the U.S. The work week typically runs Sunday through Thursday. This leaves Friday for Shabbat preparation and Shabbat for well... Shabbat.

Gan and Maon end early on Fridays, but leave just enough time to do errands and finish Shabbat cooking and cleaning. Everyone in the Yishuv is engaging in these activities. Everyone at the same time. On Thursday evening there is always a flurry of emails asking if anyone is going to a grocery store Friday morning. There is a man in the Yishuv who since the end of the situation this Summer takes challot and flower orders from people in the Yishuv and drives to Sderot to buy them Friday morning (We already learned it is not possible to buy challot on Thursday--how ridiculous of us to even think so!). The challah is delicious and its good to know we are helping someone keep their business profitable.

The anticipation for Shabbat around the Yishuv is palpable. As the time gets closer to sundown people are running around trying to get things done. Often Friday is a time when you see dads doing pickup and taking the kids out to play while moms finish in the house.

Eighteen minutes before sundown it all ceases. It almost feels like a collective deep breath. I light my candles make sure the kids are dressed and send them off to shul with Adam. I make sure the food is on the Blech and put the finishing touches on my own attire and off I go to meet them at shul. After Kabalat Shabbat, everyone wishes each other a Shabbat Shalom and people head off to wherever they will be enjoying Shabbat dinner.

Shabbat morning one will see many men on the men's side starting at 8. Often they have some or all of the children with them. Adam usually brings our oldest and sometimes our daughter as well. By 9 or 9:30 most of the women have arrived with the rest of the children and the Tefilat Yeladim (children's service) begins at 9:40. Both services end around 10:00. There is a shiur after services (it's in Hebrew so we usually don't stay in to listen). After services on Saturday is when the magic and quaintness is most evident.

The Magic of Shabbat

I will use today as an example. Adam was not feeling 100% yesterday and this morning, so we decided to stay home and daven (pray) there. At around 10:15 we started to see people coming back from shul and decided we would get ready and take a walk before we were expected at a neighbors for lunch. We all got dressed, put the kids in the carrier and stroller, and started out on our walk to nowhere in particular.

We walked towards a part of the Yishuv that we don't typically walk in because its not on the way to Gan, Maon or Shul. On our way, every person we walked by said Shabbat Shalom and it seemed as though everyone in the Yishuv was out trying to catch a few minutes of Sunlight and fresh air on this cold Winter day.

As we were walking through one of the neighborhoods, we saw a group of people making Kiddush outside. They invited us to come over to have a drink and some cake. We sat with them for a few minutes, made some small talk, and then were on our way again. Already we were feeling refreshed.

We must have walked past 30-40% of people in the Yishuv and everyone wished us a Shabbat Shalom. It was a nice feeling to walk around and know everyone, have them know us, and be able to wish each other Good Shabbos.

The day continued, we had a lovely lunch at our neighbors' house, the kids enjoyed playing together (our oldest almost decided to stay longer by himself, which in itself is a huge statement about his comfort level) and we took the kids home for a nap. Shabbat afternoon passed uneventfully, a little rest, a snack, Havdallah, dinner, showers and bed.

We went into Shabbat feeling battle-worn and sick from the week. We emerged refreshed and renewed.

The Magic of Good People

As I started to do the dishes, there was a knock on the door. I went and answered it and it was our neighbor who is also our host family. She said she was coming to check to make sure we were "still alive" since she had not seen us at all on Shabbat (like I said, we did not go to shul, and walked in a different area than normal). We talked for a few minutes about the coming week and she went back home.

After she left, I continued to wash my Shabbat dishes, and I started thinking about the interaction. I know that clearly the comment about making sure we were alive was a joke, but the whole interaction made me think about this community. We are making friends. People care about our well-being. We are making a life here. We have fallen into the rhythm of the week, and the rhythm of Shabbat. We are making a home here, and so far its more than we ever could have hoped.

Thank you Retamim.

If its not obvious, this is not a picture from Shabbat.

Thoughtfully written by:

Rachel Hopkins

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