University of Haifa International School Student Blog
I am from New York. I do not know if I have told you (KIDDING), but I, technically, live in New York City. I have constantly dealt with the “hustle and bustle” of urban life, and as a result, I have a very “go-go-go” personality. Does that make sense? I am always busy whether it is work, academics, extra-curricular activities, dancing, working out – You get the point. When I am not busy, I find myself in a state of temporary chaos. I question why I am not busy, and I try to find some project or activity to do. I like to be busy. I like to be occupied. I like to be on the move, but it does become stressful.
Shabbat is a Jewish, holy day, which occurs every Saturday. Shabbat is similar to the Catholic Sunday. It is a day of rest, and it is a day where families spend time with each other. I rather not go into the religious background of the holiday because frankly, I do not know the exact meaning of Shabbat.
Before I came to Israel, I was warned – “Shabbat is coming.” I knew that it was a day of rest, so I figured that some stores would close – Again, I am relating Shabbat back to Sundays in the states. Some stores close early. I did not realize every Jewish store closes.
It was not until my first Saturday at the University that I realized how quiet the day gets on Shabbat. I would say I went for a walk around 11AM to grab some espresso, but to my utmost surprise, nothing was open. The on-campus markets, stores, and cafes were all closed. Honestly, I just wanted a cup of coffee. I asked the security guard – Is anything open? He responded to me with a “No. Everything is closed. Tomorrow, everything opens.” I mumbled a few groans underneath my breath because I wanted to go somewhere, grab my coffee, get some work done, and continue on with my day. I would be forced to relax, and I wanted nothing to do with that.
Who knew that Shabbat would have a great effect on a girl like me?
Now, two weeks later, I have realized the importance of Shabbat. The holiday forces you to relax – Take a break from your work, academics, problems, and simply relax. It compels you to spend time with the loved ones around you – you have limited places to go because every store closes. In these past two weeks, I take a step back from school or other outside work, and I take a moment to breathe, relax, and hang out with my newfound friends. Sometimes, we travel, but we travel together. Shabbat allows us to keep in mind that life should not be consumed by work, and it makes us focus on more important matters as spending time with one another, relaxation, and harmony. Shabbat gives busy people, like me, that necessary break from reality…