Israel is a very spiritual place for several religions but the Jewish faith is definitely the one which you will encounter more readily in Israel. If you want to learn more about Judaism or get a taste of how Judaism is practiced in Israel it is not a problem. You can walk into any synagogue at any time of the day and pray or ask the people there about their faith. If you would like to join in and pray with them that is also not a problem but perhaps the most interesting and moving pray time is the one right before sunset on a Friday night. The Friday evening prayer service is called “Kabbalat Shabbat.”
What is Kabbalat Shabbat
Kabbalat Shabbat means receiving or welcoming the Sabbath. The Kabbalat Shabbat prayers take place just before sundown on a Friday in synagogues across the country. Shabbat is the Jewish holy day; a day of rest, prayer and contemplation. You can attend the Kabbalat Shabbat prayers in any synagogues or try one of these ideas where the prayers are specifically for new comers, secular and religious Jews, visitors and locals alike.
Kabbalat Shabbat at Tel Aviv Port
Attend the Kabbalat Shabbat service as you sit opposite the sea on the Northern Deck promenade of Tel Aviv Port. The services take place every Friday at around 6:30pm from June 27th to August 28th. The service includes prayers, music, poetry reading and even dancing. The standard prayers are interspersed with modern Hebrew poetry and both traditional and classic tunes. Each Friday 800-1,000 people attend from all walks of life and religious traditions. There are visitors from all over the world, locals who enjoy the outdoor service with the sunset as a backdrop and others who have not found a welcoming place in conventional synagogues. The service is run by the Tel Aviv congregation of Beit Tefilah, a pluralistic and diverse group which includes both religious Jews and secular Jews who want a little Jewish tradition in their lives and to be part of a community.
Kabbalat Shabbat at the Port of Jaffa
The Kabbalat Shabbat services in the Port of Jaffa are run by the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism. The Daniel Centers focus on bringing Israelis and Jews together from different walks of life, traditions, sexual orientations and cultures. They spearhead egalitarian efforts to create an alternative to Orthodox Judaism while recognizing the Jewish values which tie them to their heritage. The services in Jaffa are held throughout the year at 6pm in summer and 5:30pm in winter. They also have a Saturday morning service at 9:30am. The service is conducted by one of the Daniel Centers Rabbis and Cantor Freddie Peer.
Kabbalat Shabbat at the First Station Jerusalem
The Kabbalat Shabbat program at Jerusalem’s First Station (New Jerusalem City Square, 4 David Remez St.) is a pluralistic fun, family event with lots of music and dancing. This Kabbalat Shabbat is organized by the Ginot Ha’ir Community Council. While here you can enjoy the restaurants and stores at the First Station.
Kabbalat Shabbat at the Western Wall
The Western Wall is the holiest Jewish site in Israel; it is the site of daily prayers by devoted locals and visitors to Israel. On Friday nights there are evening prayers according to the Orthodox traditional. The service consists of silent prayers, singing, prayers said out loud by all the worshipers and the occasional spontaneous dancing. These are the same prayers which have been said by Jews across the globe for thousands of years. Men and women are invited to join in but unlike the other Kabbalat Shabbat options mentioned above at the Western Wall men and women pray separately. You will notice different groups praying in their own way, to their own melodies and dressed in different traditional Shabbat attire. It is also necessary to respect local religious traditions of modesty by covering your shoulders and legs. Women should bring along a head covering. There are yamakas and shawls available for those who do not bring their own.