Shabbos in Tzefas is from another world. Serene, scenic, peaceful, and inspirational. My cousin and I walked up to the Old City late Friday afternoon…or more correctly, we climbed the mountain! We meandered through the cobblestone streets and came to a plateau where we viewed the valley. The sunset was gorgeous pinks, blues, and purples.
“Should we daven here, just overlooking the valley?” my cousin asked.
“Sure; this is beautiful!”
“Hmmm…let’s go a little bit further. I think the small shul at the top will be perfect.”
We headed further up. I was grateful to have a good guide because the scenery mesmerized me, and I could have easily lost my way…and my footing on the cobblestones!
When we reached the unassuming stone building, we maneuvered our way to the back terrace. The only lights were the long tapers lit inside the shul. I couldn’t decide which scene fascinated me—the swaying and singing inside the shul or the dark blue-purple sky over the valley behind me. I kept turning from one view to the other. Ultimately, the singing and then dancing inside the shul won! The pure peace and joy in welcoming Shabbos.
I wanted to hold onto these moments. How can I take this feeling with me?
On my first Friday night back in the States, I daydreamed about welcoming Shabbos overlooking that terrace in Tzefas. I wanted to be there in that moment. But how?
I walked onto my porch and looked around. To the west, I saw the orangey-red sunset. In front of me, there was no valley; rather a basketball court and telephone wires.
To the east were trees and the blue-purple sky. No Tzefas. I closed my eyes, sadly wondering how I could capture that peace and joy.
Slowly, I opened my eyes, faced east and looked above the treetops to the sky.
Then I closed my eyes and saw myself standing on the terrace in Tzefas, overlooking the deep green valley. I smiled and began softly singing, welcoming the Shabbos Queen.
Shabbos: the Sabbath, Shabbat
Tzefas, also known as Safed
shul: small synagogue
Photographs by Leah Henkin, 2015