A recent experience was shared with the students of the University of Haifa International School: We were all welcomed with open arms to participate in the observance of Sabbath. The day is recognized as a Jewish holiday and is set aside for rest and worship.
The tradition comes from the Bible (Exodus 20:8) where God commands “the Sabbath day is considered the day of rest on the seventh day, and is to be kept as a holy day of rest, as God rested on the seventh day from His works of Creation.”
According to the Jewish religious laws, Sabbath begins slightly before sunset on Friday and ends upon the appearance of three stars as they begin to shine on Saturday evening. Sabbath is ushered in by the lighting of candles, resting from labor and issuing prayers and blessings to the Creator. The day is called Shabbat and comes from the word Sabbath, which comes from the Hebrew word meaning “rest.”
Here, at the University of Haifa International School, the faculty and staff went above and beyond the call of duty to share this piece of their culture with international students. Not only did they prepare a very festive meal, but they had several students light candles. We all sat together and shared in the songs and prayers and we were taught the meaning of each. It was such a nice time of peace and celebration, one could begin to feel the stress from earlier in the week fade as we relaxed, enjoyed one another’s company, ate a good meal and took part in songs and prayers.
It was such a pleasant experience to be a part of. I sat and watched people from all over the world take time out and enjoy another nation’s holiday. The doors of communication were opened and students who were normally shy began to open up and share their experiences with one another; We even had a gentleman from America pick up the guitar and sing songs in Hebrew! It was amazing because many did not know that he came from a Jewish background.
What can I say about the meal besides that it was awesome sauce?!
I loved everything about the wonderful food that the staff prepared for us students. People who know me know that I am extremely picky eater, but I must say, considering I went back for my third helping of this wonderful food, I am having absolutely NO problems eating the foods prepared here at the university.
Other universities from my home country need to take note … just saying!
It was such a wonderful memory to be able to have this experience. I share these stories with the hopes that many of you will take note and realize all the things that are possible through participating in a study abroad program. Not only am I able to learn through academics, but I also have been given an awesome opportunity to mix and mingle with many different people from many different cultures.
If you would like to do the same and build similar memories, and have a wonderful time while doing so, feel free to reach out to the SDSU Study Abroad Office. I never believed I could grow any more as a person, but this experience has proven to me that there is still more room. So, please take hold of the opportunity and the chance of a lifetime before it is too late.
Elizabeth Jones is a transfer student majoring in criminal justice and international security and conflict resolution (ISCOR). She is studying at University of Haifa in Israel for an entire academic year.
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