Shalom [Hello!] from Israel: Reflections from my Spring Break – Part II

This is the second in my series of Israeli traditions and cultural aspects that I hope to integrate into my own life in New York. Click here for Part I. Stay tuned for Part III.

#2 A day of rest

Shabbat is the weekly day of rest in the Jewish religion, lasting from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. Shabbat Shalom is the greeting you’ll hear between friends and family during this time, and my favorite translation of this is “May your wholeness be restored as you cease work on the seventh day.”  In Israel, Friday and Saturday comprise the weekend, and students are let out of school early on Fridays (they go to school six days a week, with only Saturday off).  While Tel Aviv is fairly secular, Shabbat is sort of an enforced break from the craziness of life because many stores are closed and there is no public transportation. Traditionally, Jews will have a big Shabbat dinner Friday night and spend Saturday in religious services, walking around their communities, playing games, or enjoying time with friends and family.

Friday night, Laura and I cooked ourselves dinner and had friends over for wine and a movie. Saturday, we walked down to the beach and people-watched for a few hours. We saw a giant group of Israelis doing traditional dances in a big city square (think a line dance, but Jewish dances usually go in a circle), people playing Matkot (a mix of ping pong and squash), and lots of kids out on their bikes and scooters with parents chatting nearby. We grabbed lunch (I had shakshouka which is an amazing egg, tomato, onion, cheese concoction served with bread), and we sat outside, enjoying the breeze and the peacefulness of a beautiful, relaxing day.

As the type of person who never stops moving (and a full-time doctoral student with two part-time jobs), I love the idea of incorporating a 24-hour mandatory relaxation into my schedule… or maybe a 12-hour mandatory relaxation period? Providing myself with a guilt-free respite from work could definitely contribute to my overall wellbeing.

[Clockwise from upper-left: Tel Aviv Beach, Shakshouka- a traditional Israeli breakfast, women dancing on the boardwalk, men playing Matkot]


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