"Six Days you shall labor and do all your work, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of Adonai your God.” (Exodus 20:9-10) Shabbat is a day of rest. A special day. The days of Friday and Saturday occur automatically, but Shabbat occurs when we make it happen.
Typically, Sharon lights the Shabbat candles at home; recites the blessings over the wine and challah. Currently, Sharon is congregational president and she attends Shabbat services more regularly and finds it calming, rejuvenating, and spiritual.
Robin also enjoys baking challah prior to Shabbat…can you smell it?
In Israel, Shabbat takes on an entirely different experience because everything truly stops. Everyone takes the time to rest and feel the Sabbath. While in Israel Shabbat takes on a different meaning, a different feel, a different experience.
Robin, a first time visitor to Israel in 40 years, celebrated Shabbat at Masada. In ninety-degree heat, the need for a bathroom at inconvenient times and plastering ourselves with SPF 75, we were all mesmerized by the sheer beauty of our surroundings. While listening to the story of Masada, we felt connected to our past and the spirituality of Shabbat. After a truly moving service on top of Masada overlooking the beauty of the mountains and the Dead Sea this was an awe-inspiring Shabbat Robin has never experienced before.
This is Sharon’s third visit to Israel and on this Shabbat chose to relax, reflect and re-energize. At home there is always an email to respond to a phone call to return, and laundry! Not to mention shopping, cooking, and other obligations.
In Israel, we were given the opportunity to either choose to sit by the pool and enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Tachena with friends or climb Masada. Both Shabbat experiences enabled us to engage in laughing and chatting about our days of exploring together. Both of us experiencing Shabbat peace.
After our individual experiences, we both asked our fellow travelers to share with us one word to describe their Shabbat. Some Shabbat feelings from our group included: spiritual, grateful, Miriam, breathtaking, peaceful, surreal, inspirational, divine, song, prayer, awe inspiring, tranquil, unplugged, free, and ancestral footsteps.
As we relax on the rooftop overlooking Jerusalem we feel this overwhelming gratefulness and need to just thank God for the beauty that surrounds us. A day of rest is needed and commanded of us. Perhaps once home we will be able to continue the essence of Shabbat. The true meaning of Shabbat…
It was truly a special Shabbat celebrated along with our WRJ friends to cherish for all time.
Sharon K. Benoff is on the WRJ Executive Committee as the Individual Membership Chair, Union of Reform Judaism North American Board Member and Congregational President of Shir Ami in Newtown, Pennsylvania.
Robin Krieger is a member of Sisterhood of Temple Shalom in Newton, MA. She is currently Corresponding Secretary of the Northeast District, former Area Director and Sisterhood President.