Sunday Is Monday – Shopping In Israel
“When practiced, Sabbath-keeping is an active protest against a culture that is always on, always available and always looking for something else to do.” Stephen W. Smith
Tel Aviv appears to be a cosmopolitan, secular city. My time in Israel included two Sabbaths (Friday afternoon through Saturday evening). I awoke the first Saturday morning and anticipated the beautiful breakfast I had eaten the morning before at the hotel. To my surprise, there was no cappuccino and no one was making eggs. There was dry cereal, pastries, hardboiled eggs,smoked fish, salads and instant coffee – not the Saturday morning brunch at a hotel that I was used to.
After a walk along the beautiful beachfront to Jaffa and back, I was preparing to do some shopping.
I was told that everything was closed and there was no public transportation. Coming from a consumer driven society, I didn’t really believe that. This was a tourist area, some stores must be open. I don’t often have culture shock visiting a country. I expect things to be different. I know all toilets are not created equal. I try to remember to take my shoes off in Asian countries when visiting someone’s home or a temple. Preparing to be a Sabbath violator, I went out in search of shopping. There were some restaurants and cafes open and a mini market and that was it.
In the afternoon we went to the old beautiful city of Jaffa. Jaffa is a mix of Arabs and Jews so I was hopeful.
We looked at the beautiful old architecture and walked the maze of alleys to the port.
We had a beautiful sunset lunch/dinner but no shopping there either. “Sunday is Monday” said my friend.
I was thinking about it. Does a day of rest strengthen a country and a family? There were a lot of families in the park. The beach was packed with people. Families were strolling around the city. For us Saturday is a day of housework, soccer tournaments, ballet classes, sporting events, matinees, movies and shopping sprees.
In America Sundays used to be a day of rest. We didn’t have a national religion but all stores and businesses were closed on Sundays so we did have a national day of rest. Some people went to church, visited their grandparents, had a big family meal, went to the beach or the park or for a drive. One day a week we did something different. Our day wasn’t defined by consumption or production. We had fewer choices of what we could do. It was a day to be lazy and read. It was a peaceful ordinary Sunday, a common day of rest which for us ended in Chinese or Italian food. As we now search for inner peace through mindfulness and meditation, it is interesting to see what disappeared when America lost that.