The hustle and bustle of Jerusalem suddenly quiets as the sun sets and the Sabbath approaches in the ancient city of Jerusalem. You’ll hear a siren as the sun is setting as the signal that the Sabbath is beginning. For the next 25 hours, offices and stores will be closed, city buses stay parked, people attend services in synagogues and enjoy family meals, and tourists may wonder what to do.
Wander down to the Western Wall – also known in Hebrew as the Kotel – and experience the prayers of the Friday night Sabbath service. Certain activities go against the grain of Jewish tradition, so this is one time you won’t bring your camera or write a note to stuff into the crevices in the wall. Despite the day of rest, you can still find plenty to enjoy in Jerusalem. Though buses go quiet, you’ll still find that taxis are running. You can take one to the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City. Shops and restaurants in these areas are all open and specifically geared for tourists. There are parks, gardens, and a zoo to visit as well.
Saturday morning is an ideal time to visit the Israel Museum. It generally opens at 10 a.m. and remains open until 5 p.m. (We do encourage you to verify these hours before you go.) In addition to special exhibitions, this huge museum has permanent displays that will treat you to Jewish costumes and jewelry throughout the centuries, Jewish scripts, the annual cycle of holidays with their accompanying ritual objects, our fascinating archaeological heritage, communal worship services and rhythms of everyday life, and artwork that ranges from local to regional and the world.
There are plenty of restaurants that remain open on the Sabbath. In the old city you’ll discover the best falafel and street food. The Adom restaurant, near the train station, is a popular stop with delicious cuisine. The Link restaurant on King George Street is more casual and has a variety of beers. The HaTaklit Bar is a popular destination for hipsters and features an eclectic range of music.
We can also arrange for you to spend the Friday night Sabbath meal with an Orthodox family for a taste of an authentic Shabbat experience. Everyone to whom we’ve recommended this has loved the experience.
These are just a few of the recommendations Israel Celebration Tours can offer.