I have now had officially two weeks in Israel, and the constant traveling has helped the internet evade me. I have managed to re acclimate myself to the place, culture(s), people, and heat and settle in a stationary place from which to tell my tales.
I am staying with a Jewish/Swiss family in the north, across the road that is outside our back porch in the Jewish town, Tivon, is the Bedouin township of Basmat Tab’un. Hanging out in my room in the Jewish town, I look out the window to see a mosque, and I hear, five times a day, the call to prayer. If you ever want to experience as many different cultures as possible all at exactly the same time, I recommend Israel.
The first tale I have to tell is a tale of shopping. The second day I was there the family I was staying with and I visited a store in an Arab village (not the one across the road). “Middle East Craft” was the name. I came in and started looking around, like one normally does in a store. I was told to see if there was anything I liked, but pretty soon I discovered, that shopping was not the purpose of our visit. I was soon brought to the front to sit on an couch and watch as the father of my family played magic tricks with some young Arab boys. There was a table in front of me, spread with Arabic coffee, dates, cookies, candy, and water. I smiled and accepted the hospitality set up for any and all customers.
It was evident that we were there just to enjoy each other’s company.
The night before this I had my first family style Israeli Shabbat meal. I have learned to love Shabbat during previous travels in this country. After a week of non-stop, exhausting volunteer work, the fact that everything closed down (including public transportation), forced me to take a day of rest. I would spend the day reading, napping, staring out at nature, an entire day of it from sun down to sundown. This concept is pretty foreign to us in the U.S. Shabbat meal, then brought a whole new appreciation of this faith observance to me. (By the way, as a Christian, I often wish we would celebrate the Sabbath, or Shabbat, this way, it is not like it is canceled out by the teachings of Christ. In fact this Jewish family does believe in Yeshua, or Jesus in Hebrew, but culturally, by background and by family, they are Jewish and keep the feasts and holidays like many other similar families in this country.) The table was set with a nice cloth, special dishes and silverware, special cups, and Shabbat candles.
The father sang blessings and passed around a cup of wine everyone drank from, then blessed the freshly home baked challah bread and passed it around for everyone to tear a piece from. The whole family was there, the son who had just gotten married and moved out and his wife included. This tradition can be found anywhere in the world Jewish family’s are found. Once a week, the family stops, shares a special meal, dedicates it to God and sings and reads together scriptures. Every week their world stops for this. It was a different experience, however, knowing that the whole town was shut down for Shabbat as well.