Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is the US About to Get a Taste of Jerusalem?

By Susan Esther Barnes

Thanks to the commenters at TCJewfolk, I was clued in to a nifty concept: Is the United States about to get a taste of what it’s like to live in Jerusalem this weekend?

One of the most lasting impressions of the City of Jerusalem on Shabbat is how the city transforms itself. Many people work Sunday through Thursday, so they are off on Friday and are free to do their last-minute shopping and cooking for Friday night’s festive meal.

Starting in the afternoon, businesses begin to close. As more and more shoppers and workers arrive at home, there are fewer and fewer cars on the road. By late afternoon, the normally bustling streets become empty thoroughfares, with only an occasional vehicle passing by.

As the city slows down, everything is more quiet. It’s easier to relax, to notice the plants and the flowers. A neighborly feeling emerges as couples and groups of people stroll toward their local synagogue for evening services.

On Saturday, many of the shops and restaurants are still closed. Younger kids play in local parks, older children visit with their families, parents relax.

Finally, on Saturday night, the sun sets, the cars and people emerge, and the city becomes a bustling place once again.

This year, Christmas Eve falls on Erev Shabbat, and Christmas Day falls on the day of Shabbat. This year, many Jews and non-Jews will have Friday off to prepare for the festive meal on Friday night. Others will leave work on Friday afternoon, and many stores and businesses will close early.

This year, many of those stores and restaurants will also be closed on Shabbat, for Christmas. Christians and secular Americans will be at home, unwrapping presents and enjoying time with their families. There will be few cars on the road. It will be easier to hear the birds and the wind in the trees.

Perhaps, after lunch with their families, a neighborly feeling will emerge as Jewish and non-Jewish families meet in local parks, and take a break from their normally bustling lives.

I miss Israel, and most especially I miss Jerusalem. I hope that this year, maybe a taste of Jerusalem will visit us here.

1 comment:

  1. I love your post - it captures exactly what I was thinking in my conversation with Nina in the comments of my post "I'll Be Home for Christmas." I hope this shabbat will indeed be a taste of Jerusalem here for you and your family.