Saturday, January 7, 2012

My First Shabbat

Yesterday I experienced my first Shabbat--or Sabbath Day--in the Holy Land.

A national park next to the Jerusalem Center

Shabbat begins on Friday night. As the sun is setting, merchants are closing shop and the city quickly becomes desolate. The Sabbath is a day of rest, or, better translated from Hebrew, a "cessation from work," and this holy day is taken very seriously. In fact, it's quite inspiring to see the way these devout men and women honor God through their worship on the Sabbath.


A view from the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden
I once heard that our great grandfathers called this special day of worship the Holy Sabbath, our grandfathers called it the Sabbath, our fathers called it Sunday, and we call it the weekend. The idea behind the Sabbath as a day meant to honor God has largely been lost--at least where I'm from. What a moving experience it is to see such religious fervency here among the various religions sharing the Holy City. I've been greatly impressed by their examples.

Yesterday was a memorable day for several reasons:

  1. I got to pick up a woman named Svetlana and bring her to church. She is a Moldovan member of the Church with whom I enjoyed speaking Russian :)
  2. Taking the Sacrament overlooking Jerusalem was a truly sacred experience.
  3. I taught primary for the first time and loved it! Primary is the place to be.
  4. After Church, a group of us went to the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens. Read more!
  5. The views were amazing.
  6. We went to Gethsemane. By far the most meaningful experience I've had since arriving in Israel. Click here to read about my experience in the Garden!
  7. We saw the supposed tomb of the Virgin Mary.
  8. Mary's Tomb
  9. We took random pictures and had a great time :)

From left to right: Sterling, Mark, Kyle, Jen, Makara
"Mormon University" hosts eight tours a day, with over 60,000 visitors a year. However, the center shuts down on Sundays except to members of the LDS Church because of its non-proselyting agreement with the Israeli Government.




  1. The first response I want to make after every post I read is: "WOW!!" It seems so redundant, but, "WOW!" What an awesome experience you are having! I loved the list of memorable things about your day, and I especially enjoyed hearing about the Sabbath Day there. The photos are great, and I know that you can only post a few. It will be wonderful when we can one day sit down and view them all! haha Thanks for sharing-- we look forward to hearing details to come! Love you!! xoxo

  2. Hooray! I get to learn of your experiences on another "mission" of sorts. I love your writing and am excited to see what awaits you in Jerusalem.

  3. Brings back memories of when I was there for ten days 27 years ago. Wow, I'm old!