Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 11/27/2010

Sabbath In Israel with Recipe

When I was in Jerusalem I was impressed by the way most of the shops close down mid afternoon on Fridays and people hurry to their homes to prepare for the special evening of family sharing, delicious food, prayers and a feeling of holiday, lasting 25 hours into the next day. A Christian volunteer in Israel, Charleeda Sprinkle, writes about it in the October issue of ‘Dispatch From Jerusalem’. She says she doesn’t think there’s anywhere else in the world that honors the Sabbath (Shabbat) the way Israel does. She says the quiet is so wonderful. “As busy a city as Jerusalem is, with all its horn honking traffic jamming its narrow streets, one marvels that it’s possible for such a city to almost come to a halt. Does New York City or Tokyo or London ever rest?”

In Israel and for Jews worldwide the Sabbath is celebrated on the seventh day (Lev. 23:6) starting Friday night and lasting almost 25 hours, since it’s not officially over till three stars are spotted in the sky on Saturday night. The emphasis on family is a most wonderful attribute of the Sabbath. Families bless each member, they socialize over beautifully prepared meals, songs are sung, stories are shared and they pray together. Laughter and happy conversations are heard late into the night and relatives of all generations walk and play together.

She asks “does your family need more ‘together’ time? Creating a Sabbath tradition might be the answer.” She shares a delicious Sabbath recipe from The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur, called Cholent. I will paste it here for anyone who wants to give it a try.


1/3 cup oil
2 large onions, chopped coarsely
2.5 lbs. beef brisket or roast, cut into large chunks
12 oz. large white beans, soaked in water overnight
3-4 veal marrow bones
1 whole head garlic, halved crosswise (unpeeled)
1 tsp. salt
1.5 Tbsp. paprika
1 quart chicken/beef stock or water
8 medium potatoes, halved
10 oz pearl barley, washed and drained

Heat oil in an ovenproof 6 quart pot and fry onions till golden. Add meat and bones and brown on all sides. Add beans, garlic and spices. Pour in stock or water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil and cook one hour over low heat. Skim off any fat and froth. Add potatoes and cook another 15 minutes. Add the pearl barley and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Cover tightly and leave in oven through the night. Serves 8-12.

Do you have any Sabbath recipes you could share with us? Please feel free to click on ‘Leave a Comment’ below and type out one of your favorites!



  1. Your post on the Sabbath family gatherings and the way everything quieted almost to a halt reminded me of my youth. We always gathered with aunts, uncles, cousins and enjoyed a true day off from any work or shopping. That was in the days before stores could open on Sunday. This tradition carried over with our kids but has not continued on with our grandkids. Their lives are so much busier so they can’t spend Sundays visiting with extended family the way we used to. I try to have them together once a month but it’s not easy to get them all available on the same Sunday because of all the activities they are involved in.

    Be blessed,

  2. Thank you Joan. You have reminded me that it was the same for our family back in ‘the old days’. I remember my parents, brothers and me staying dressed up from church all day long, and going to visit relatives and having people over on Sunday afternoons. There was no shopping, working, sitting at computers 😉 or worrying. We always had a special Sunday dinner too. I guess we were mimicking the Jewish Sabbath whether we knew it or not!

  3. Happy Sabbath to Israel.

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