Keeping with the culture here, we celebrate Shabbat starting around sundown on Friday to Saturday evening rather than have our day of rest on Sunday. Every Friday whoever is around gathers for a nice meal and Shabbat traditions.
Tonight many of our team members were out, so there were only 7 staff members, one local friend, and we invited one of the Kurdish patients who is 22 to join us. So we decided to have a picnic! We laid out blankets, nice glasses, plates, and a huge spread of food in the backyard. Elena made Brinner (Breakfast for dinner) and we all enjoyed a relaxing evening.
But before we dove into the delicious meal, we had to complete a few Shabbat traditions. First, a woman in the house covers her head, lights two special Shabbat candles, and prays over them. Usually there is a special prayer done in Hebrew, but we don't know it and most of us can't speak Hebrew, so we just thank God for his blessings and say whatever is on our hearts. I had the privilege of doing this the first Shabbat I was here. After the prayer we break bread. Ryan, another staff member, usually blesses in Hebrew and English. The bread is this really nice loaf of hallah which is kind of sweet. Each person breaks off a piece, salts it, and then eats the bread. Then Ryan blesses a cup of wine (in our case, grape juice), again in Hebrew and English, and we pass around the cup, each taking a sip. And then we all say, "Shabbat Shalom!" We also have started singing the Shabbat song which is really fun. You basically just say "Shabbat Shalom" over and over and over. I know it sounds kinda weird, but it is super great!And that is a typical Shabbat!
This evening after we ate, seven of us hung out in the garden awhile longer, enjoying the evening and singing some songs. There were also some impromptu performances of an Australian Romeo and Juliet and Southern Rapunzel. I can never explain the humor they provided to us, but I'm sure you can imagine it.
I must confess, my first Shabbat here, I didn't like it. Having a whole day off just to rest was really boring. But the longer I am here, the more and more I appreciate it. When you work six very full days, having one entire day of nothing is such a blessing! I'm starting to realize how lazy most of us are to only work five days and then have two days for the weekend. I am going to try to never again complain about the heavy weekday workload I have at college. It is in no way as intense as this. I also am going to try to do a better job at keeping the Sabbath holy and resting, even once I am back in America.