Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,
Mark
mhaithaca

Ups and Downs

Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew that observant Jews couldn't use elevators during the Sabbath, or at least couldn't push the buttons to make the elevator move. An early story of President Obama from his days in the Illinois state legislature was that he helped a friend and colleague, an Orthodox Jew who was also in the state legislature, by pushing the elevator buttons for him on the Sabbath. (Odd as it sounds, it's OK for observant Jews to let other people cause work to happen, though they themselves can't work or cause work to happen.)

Also in the back of my head, I knew that Israeli elevators had a mode they could be put in for the Sabbath where they would simply run continuously, opening and closing their doors at each floor, going up and down. That lets you step on and off the elevator wherever you need to; you're not causing it to go up and down, just taking advantage of the fact that it already is. That's what's going on at our hotel in Safed, where our cousin says there are no fewer than 60 or so synagogues in about a half-mile radius, covering all traditions including Hasidic, Polish, Ashkenazic, Sephardic, even Moroccan Jews. Her sons hop from congregation to congregation to try different sets of songs and so forth.

It occurred to me to wonder this morning how the hotel could serve hot food at breakfast, since you can't light a fire during Shabbat. I wondered if once you've decided it's OK to have people (non-Jews) working, it's fine to have them cooking, as well. Eydl (our cousin) explained that it's fine to have non-Jews cooking, as long as the oven was lit before the Sabbath began. At their house, they have a hot plate that's turned on before sundown on Friday to keep a pot of barley hot from Friday's supper until Saturday's lunch. We had some of that barley dish, which also has tomatoes and spices, last night, and it was out of this world! It's among the dishes we've had this week that I'm planning to try to replicate.

Bath RuinsThe breakfast and lunch buffets were both really fantastic, with lots of grilled vegetables, salad stuff, fish, and so on. Lunch featured several hot dishes, things along the lines of stew and pot roast and roast chicken legs, that are easy enough to just slide into an oven. Most of the food is presumably prepared before sundown Friday.

Our photography drought will end at sundown today, at 7:09pm, and before dinner my father and I are going to do some walking around with our cameras to try to capture some of what we saw today on our post-breakfast walk.

Meantime, here's one of yesterday's 50 photos (that's just the ones I'm uploading; there are dozens I'm not, as usual), from our visit to Caesarea. This is a major archaeological site, a port city dating back thousands of years across countless occupants, including Byzantines and Romans and Moroccans and Egyptians. It's in ruins, of course, but it's still impressive how much is still standing, or as in the case of the Roman-era baths, how much mosaic is intact. The theatre is used for summer concerts (a group was rehearsing in it when we were there) and most of the stands from the hippodrome are intact, as if they could start up chariot races again at any time.
Tags: israel
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