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Day 10: Shabbat in Jerusalem

July 13, 2012

Day 10 gave us the unique opportunity to experience Shabbat in Jerusalem. For me, that meant staying very true to the spirit of Shabbat and spending the day being quite lazy. This was probably the least busy day of the entire trip.

Rabbi Spilker took some members of the group to a pair of synagogues to experience Shabbat morning services in the city. I slept in, but those in the group who are actually responsible and able to wake up at early hours enjoyed the experience, which took them to a Modern Orthodox congregation followed by a more reform-style service at Hebrew Union College. At the college, Batya got the chance to wear her tallit from Yad Lakashish for the first time.

In the late afternoon we walked as a group to the actual Mt. Zion, where we took a picture of ourselves in front of a Mt. Zion/Talmud Torah sign (if anyone has this picture, email me). We also walked through the Christian quarter, which was once again a chance to see how this city is sacred to so many different people. The space seemed to take on a unique meaning for every group depending on their history.

After that some of us hiked up to the Mount of Olives. It was a fairly steep trek, but was worth it for the incredible view of the old city of Jerusalem. Located on the Mount of Olives is a massive graveyard (it’s apparently one of the most coveted spots to be buried), with all the tombstones lined up vertically and so close together that, from a distance, they almost look like a big wall. After a lot of walking, most of our group took a cab back to the hotel.

After dinner, we had a special Havdallah service. It was supposed to take place at a scenic overlook of the city that was outside the hotel, but the swirling wind prevented us from lighting the candle, despite seemingly hundreds of attempts. Finally we gave up and went inside and had the service before going our separate ways for the night.

A group of us went to Ben Yehuda street, one of the busiest in Jerusalem, to see the nightlife that happens right after Shabbat ends, which was a special opportunity. Jerusalem doesn’t really shut down on Shabbat like a lot of us assumed it did, but it is definitely slower and then everyone seems to really let loose once the sun goes down on Saturday night.

We stayed out pretty late, and even at the end of a fairly laid-back day we were still exhausted.

– Josh

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