I went to Israel two weeks ago with 32 amazing people and the Israel Collective.
On Friday night, while staying in Jerusalem, we were invited to a family’s home for the Shabbat meal. Seriously. ALL 32 OF US.
Unlike anything we do here in America, the entire city of Jerusalem shuts down for Shabbat, or the Sabbath. Stores are closed, home and shop lights are turned off, people are around the table with their family for dinner. No computer, no phone, no technology for 24 hours.
We massively overran their living room and dining room, but somehow this lovely family was skilled and prepared and cooked for all of us, serving many traditional Shabbat dishes. We learned songs that are sang weekly around the table, and we laughed and talked and told stories. The whole thing was absolutely lovely, including our host family and the matzah ball soup.
No phones. No interruptions. No FOMO (fear of missing out) because when an entire town is shut down, you aren’t missing much. There isn’t a better option — where you are is the best option. We were all right where we wanted to be.
It was just beautiful how everyone stopped and everyone looked inward.
I felt connected with God and with my “family” around that table. Something about the quiet of the city added a reverence to the night. It felt like God enjoyed our time around the table as much, if not more, than we did.
After the dinner was over and our team lollygagged through the streets of Jerusalem, my buddies Ross and Matthew and I talked about how we bring this home.
How do you add Shabbat rest and quiet and family focus into a culture that doesn’t live like that?
Sure. I can turn off my phone from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, I can sit in my candle-lit house alone, but with no one else in my community stopping to make space for rest, my FOMO will rage and I’ll miss all the fun Friday nights and breezy Saturday morning walks and BRUNCH. I love brunch.
So I’ve come home with a big Shabbat question.
How do I add rest, not only to my life, but to my home?
How do I find quiet, not only in my community, but WITH my community?
How do I build a life that celebrates the stop of Shabbat?
I don’t know, and I think that’s okay. Something tells me God is just happy that I’m finally asking the question.
How do you celebrate Sabbath in your life? Give me some ideas!
by Annie F. Downs