36 Hours in Southern Israel

For families in the South, Shabbat is a time when community members open up their homes to one another

36 Hours in Southern Israel 758 (photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
36 Hours in Southern Israel 758
(photo credit: NEFESH B'NEFESH)
After making Aliyah from Westbury, Connecticut, Sarah and Zelig Bergman and their four kids show us their first Shabbat in Even Shmuel, a small town in Southern Israel. 
10:00 AM
Laundry at Our Neighbor’s
Having just made Aliyah on Tuesday, we’re still pretty jetlagged and in desperate need of doing our laundry. The only problem is that we don’t yet have a washing machine. Luckily, we made some friends when we took a pilot trip earlier this year who have told us that we can use their washing machine! The Weisbergers made Aliyah two years ago from Cincinnati and really paved the way for American Olim in Even Shmuel. We’re thrilled that our kids are already becoming friends with their kids. 
12:00 AM
Pizza Lunch in Kiryat Gat
Even Shmuel is just residential so we head to Kiryat Gat for lunch. It’s only a five-minute drive in our rental car. The pizza place is selling pies for 20 NIS each. We order two. 
1:00 PM
Hanging Up Laundry

Having come from the U.S., where we had a dryer, our kids aren’t used to hanging up their laundry. But in the South, where the air is very dry, almost no one has a dryer. So the kids have yet another new experience—and help me hang the laundry on the clothesline.
2:00 PM
Ice Cream in Kiryat Gat
My husband takes the kids back to Kiryat Gat for some ice cream. He gets an ice coffee, which in Israel means crushed ice with tons of sugar. The kids tell the shopkeeper that they are new Olim and she gives them free candies. We’ve been telling everyone that we’re new Olim and getting tons of discounts wherever we go.
5:00 PM
Fresh Tomatoes From The Garden
Our neighbors, the Nachshons invite us to pick some tomatoes from her garden. Their kids don’t like tomatoes, and mine do. Now we’ll have some fresh vegetables for Shabbat!
The kids spend the rest of the afternoon playing with some neighborhood kids and their dogs. Because we visited with the kids in May, they had a chance to make some friends before we moved here permanently.
7:15 PM
Shabbat Dinner With Our Neighbors
We bring Shabbat in early and head to the Weisbergers for Shabbat dinner. That morning, we’d gotten three more invitations for Shabbat meals, but we were already booked! The Weisbergers make special desserts in our honor: Magen David-shaped cookies and chocolate cake with blue and white frosting. Delicious! 
9:00 AM
Even Shmuel Beit Knesset
Only my husband wakes up in time for shul. The rest of us are fast asleep. The shul has a very warm Sephardi crowd. During the Torah reading, my husband gets an Aliyah and the men throw candy at him to celebrate our recent Aliyah. 
11:00 AM
Every week, people in the commu- nity host kiddushes for all sorts of occasions—whether just to be social or to celebrate someone’s homecoming from reserves. Although we are all too jetlagged to make it to a Kiddush this week, we look forward to going to them in the future!
12:30 PM
Lunch With Neighbors
The Hascaloveci family, who are Olim from Canada, invite us over for a huge lunch. The parents’ married daughter and grandchildren are there, as well as another family from the community. The first course of salads is so filling that we can barely eat anything else. But we manage. After lunch, three of our kids head to the daughter’s house to play with her kids. My husband and I take our baby girl home and nap.
5:00 PM
It’s finally cooled down enough to go to the park. Because Even Shmuel is a religious community, we can all walk through the streets without worrying about cars. The kids run around and tire out. 
7:00 PM
Seudah Shlishit At Home
Our neighbors had invited us to Seudah Shlishit, but we’d let them know that we may be a little too exhausted for it during our first Shabbat in Israel. We head home and eat some challah, hummus, tehina, and fresh tomatoes.
When Shabbat is over, we do Havdalah. My husband’s one complaint since moving to Israel is that Israeli grape juice isn’t as good as the American kind! 
9:00 PM
While we’re organizing our house and setting up my husband’s office, our landlord pays a visit with his son-in-law, who speaks some English. We provide a list of all of the things that still need to be repaired, and our landlord promises to fix them in the coming weeks. 
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