Shabbat in Israel

Shabbat challah bread

Shabbat, the Hebrew word for Saturday, is the final day of the week for Jewish people, and one when everything works completely differently. As Shabbat is considered to be a holy day in Israel, as well as a day off from work, there are several important things for travelers to know about spending their Shabbat in Israel. Here is our full guide for spending Saturday in Israel, for the best experience you can have during your Israel trip.

The tradition of Shabbat in Israel

According to Jewish tradition, Shabbat is a holy day, a day off from work, and a weekly rest day in Judaism. Shabbat takes place regularly every seven days, on the seventh day of the week per Judaism.  In Judaism, Shabbat is considered the most sacred time of all, more than any holiday.

Keeping the traditions of Shabbat is one of the main commandments in Judaism; According to the Midrash, the first Shabbat was given to man on the day of his creation, and its observance is more important than any other Mitzvah, or Jewish commandment, in the bible.

In Judaism, the Shabbat symbolizes the creation of the world by God, and the day’s holiness has been set since the creation of the world by God. The special customs and rules of Shabbat originate from the biblical commandment to sanctify this day and to rest on it from work, as God’s act after completing the creation of the world in six days.

The Shabbat is not only used for rest and refraining from doing work, and already in the time of the Bible it was seen as a day of holiness, Pleasure, and elation. Today, many families use it to meet friends and family, make big dinners, and travel around the country.

The Shabbat is actually the first time when the idea of ​​a weekly day of rest was created. Later, it was adopted by many nations in the world in ancient times and even influenced various socialist doctrines to work to shorten the length of the workday and the workweek

What time is Shabbat in Israel?

The time of Shabbat in Israel varies greatly between the time of the year, but generally, it starts on Friday afternoon, around sunset time, and ends on Saturday evening, after the sun has set and the first star can be seen in the sky. It is best to check the specific time of Shabbat during your trip here, so you will be able to make your plans accordingly. In addition, it’s important to know that Shabbat in Israel starts and ends at different times, depending on your location in the country.

How to experience a traditional Shabbat in Israel

If you wish to experience a traditional Shabbat, we would highly recommend finding a host for Shabbat, or specifically for Friday dinner. This will enable you to experience all of the unique Shabbat traditions and restrictions first-hand and learn much more about the Jewish religion and culture. Some of the best places to experience a religious Shabbat include Jerusalem, Tzfat, and others.

Of course, many Israelis celebrate Shabbat in a very different way from each other. While religious people avoid driving, using their phones, writing, and many other activities during Shabbat, secular people don’t work on Shabbat, but they do not have any other religious restrictions on this particular day. For that reason, if you are staying with a Jewish family in Shabbat, it is advisable to check their beliefs and respect them on this day.

Attractions that are still open on Shabbat

While most attractions in Israel are closed on Saturdays, there are still many things you can do on this day. Here are some examples of great attractions which stay open on Shabbat, in addition to National Parks, which are open all year round.

The Circassian Heritage Center in Kfar Kama

At the Circassian Heritage Center in Kfar Kama in the Galilee, you can get a glimpse of the fascinating history of the Circassian people. During your visit here, you can go on a journey back in time and discover the special story of the Circassians through unique architecture, authentic representatives, stories of the tradition, and cultural performances combined with costumes unique to the Circassian people.

The visitor center is located inside an ancient and magnificent building from the 19th century and as part of the visit experience, you can take a guided tour, which will walk you through the impressive museum items. You can also listen to fascinating content lectures, watch a film about the Circassian heritage, and even enjoy a cafe that offers wonderful and unique traditional Circassian cuisine.

Ophir farm visitor center

If you’re planning a romantic trip to the Jezreel Valley, Don’t miss a stop at the Meshek Ofir visitor center. The unique center, which is housed in a unique wooden cabin brought from the Appalachian Mountains in the USA, offers the best of all worlds – on the one hand, perfect culinary entertainment for adults in the boutique winery in the center, where you can taste local wine and wonderful cheese platters.

On the other hand, the farm offers a visit to the local apiary, where you can get a glimpse of the wonderful world of bees, the honey production process, and, of course, taste a variety of wonderful types of honey that are produced locally (no less than nine types!). You will also be able to enjoy a variety of indulgent picnic packages and also a guided tour of the winery’s vineyards.

Vegetable picking in Tzofit

A delicious and enriching self-picking activity in the small village of Tzofit, located not far from Petah Tikva, that will introduce your children to the wonderful world of vegetables and fruits. The farm of Tzofit invites visitors to an enriching and fun family activity, during which you will get to pick fresh strawberries and a host of other vegetables straight from the field, including Swiss chard, celery, orange and purple sweet potatoes, colorful carrots, cherry tomatoes, peppers and more.

Throughout the activity, you will be accompanied by a guide who will give you fascinating explanations about the growing process of the vegetables and their harvest. You can also enjoy a unique playground for children with 8 game tables, an authentic display of agricultural tools and ATVs, and on Saturdays indulge in Druze food that will be offered at a variety of food stalls here.

The picking season for strawberries and vegetables ranges from September to May. It is recommended to arrive with high shoes/boots as well as a baby carrier if necessary.

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