You can feel the Sabbath in Israel. The streets are calm, busses don't run, shops and supermarkets are closed, and there is a kind of palpable tranquility in the air, even in secular Tel Aviv. On days like this, which come around every week here, there are a limited amount of things you can do during the day. Upon waking up I had a sense of restlessness that prevented me from doing my normal Shabbat activity of staying in and catching up on movies and TV shows, so I decided to get out of the room and walk to the beach closest to Ramat Aviv.
As I was walking down Rehov Einstein I observed that Saturday late morning/early afternoon is a very popular time for young families to come out with their babies and go on long walks. Family walks are a huge thing here in Israel. Young couples were out in full force with their strollers, some older families were out with their younger children and dogs, and every once in a while I would see an old man, woman or couple out with their grandchildren or animals. As I was walking, listening to my Arabic music on my ipod and without a care in the world, I took a wrong turn somewhere and got lost in a gorgeous neighborhood of Ramat Aviv. Luckily the day wasn't too hot so I didn't mind the extra walking (it probably took me 45 minutes to get un-lost :-D). You discover so much when you are in unfamiliar place, and I'm so glad I got to see more of the beautiful city that I am currently living in. The picturesque neighborhoods are ideal for families, and Ramat Aviv has the quiet feel of the suburbs while only being 10 or so minutes away from the center of busy, bustling Tel Aviv.
When I finally got my bearings, it was only about another 10 minute walk to the beach. You couldn't have painted a more perfect day to be at the water; the sun was shinning, it was hot yet there was a fairly strong breeze that offered relief from the searing sun, and the water was cool and calm. After almost an hour and a half of walking around Ramat Aviv, I was very ready to park it on the sand, listen to my music, and take a rest. In Israel they call what I was doing beten-gav, which literally translated means stomach/back, but it is used as a term for "tanning and doing nothing else". Like the title of this blog says, I am now at about a Lebanese skin tone, however, my ultimate goal is to have skin that resembles that of a darker Egyptian. I judge my tan by what Arab country people thing I come from, so I clearly have some serious beten-gav-ing to do if I want to pull off Egyptian! Luckily on Shabbat there is not much more to do so I'll have time :-)
After about an hour I wanted to test out the water so I put my Ipod on hold, went into the sea, sat down a few feet in, and just let the waves crash over me. The cool water was such a relief on my hot skin, and I enjoyed the solitude of being alone in the water (there was no one swimming anywhere near where I was, so it was really just me and the ocean). Maybe 10 minutes later it was time for me to get out of the water, rest and dry off, and then head back to my apartment. Upon my return I had about 3 hours to kill until the end of Shabbat, so I decided it would be a perfect time to catch up with my family, do some homework, shower, and read a little.
Note to self: In a country where nothing is open from Friday evening to Saturday night, it is a really awful idea to put off grocery shopping until the weekend. I found myself without much food over Shabbat, and was practically ravenous by the time grocery stores re-opened on Saturday night. It was not my smartest move. Luckily I made it to Saturday night, met up with my friend Russ at around 8:30, walked around a bit while we were awaiting the opening of stores at 9, did my shopping, and then went back home to make a big dinner!
All in all it was a really great Shabbat! And now, as I finish writing this post, I want to mention that my heart, thoughts, and prayers are back home in the United States as I remember the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. I can not believe 10 years has come and gone, and it is so important that we never forget the terror that shook our country, and the terror that continues to plague this world every day. In a time of such fear and hate I can only hope and pray, every day, that unwavering peace and acceptance will soon come to all places.
We will never forget <3,