My favorite experience of the day (which I don't have a picture of) was a stop at a woman's juice stall. She had all sorts of juices that I had never heard of, and was so kind - once she heard KC and I were from America, she let us try almost all of her juices for free. My favorites were almond and a hot drink I forgot the name of - but that reminds me of hot horchata, only thicker. I ended up buying pomegranate mixed with orange, and we sat with her for quite a while, chatting, learning Hebrew slang, and eating sesame pretzels.
Last Friday, I experienced my first 'Shabbat' in Jerusalem. Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath, which is observed by Jews (and consequently, the state of Israel) on Saturdays. This means a few things that are new to me:
- Weekends are Friday and Saturday, meaning the work week runs Sunday through Thursday.
- EVERYTHING shuts down in Jerusalem at dusk on Friday and only reawakens after three stars have appeared in the sky on Saturday. That means restaurants, grocery stores, public transportation... everything.
- There is a huge tradition surrounding Shabbat dinner, which takes place after dusk on Friday. Traditionally, families come together every week and share a large meal together - the trick is, it all has to be prepared before dusk, so Friday is a 'gathering' cooking, preparing day.
- After dusk on Friday, observant Jews do not work until after dusk on Saturday. For some, that means even the pushing of a button is forbidden. It is AMAZING the inventions that have materialized to compensate for this. For example, there are elevators in Jerusalem that have a 'Shabbat function' - on Saturdays, they automatically stop at each floor so that the user does not have to push a button to get off. I've also heard rumors of self-starting ovens that work on a timer so that no dials have to be turned.
Check out the amazing color of this eggplant:
Here is our glorious Shabbat feast: