For an outsider, Jerusalem on Shabbat may be a surprising thing to experience. The city feels like a ghost town. In between shuttered shops and desolate streets, one can find a restaurant or two that are open. It’s easy to assume that those who are not religious are left to fend for themselves.

However, a 20-minute walk south of the city center leads to the Tahana Rishona, the “First Station,” the recently rennovated railway station – become a cultural and culinary attraction. Among its restaurants and cultural and sports activities, it is open on Shabbat (usually a contentious issue in a city that is always trying to reconcile a complex identity.) “We try to make it a meeting point for people without causing provocation,” says Noa Berger, marketing manager for the venue. “We’re not here to fight, so we don’t want to bring in big festivals that would create a lot of noise [on Shabbat].”

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