This is Yafo Street in downtown Jerusalem, on a winter Shabbat morning. The street is nearly empty. No light-rail cars are riding the bare tracks. A kind of white light rules the world, and the world is washed and sparkling.
Jerusalem is the kind of Israeli city where secular Jews (whatever that term means) sleep late, then dress up nice and walk to visit people, maybe have lunch.
I loved my Saturdays on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, because that neighborhood behaved a lot like a Jewish town. But even there, Shabbat happens alongside other people’s business. And in Chinatown, where I would occasionally go to daven at the Eldridge Street Synagogue, they never had a day off.
But in Jerusalem, and in Netanya, my hometown, Shabbat permeates everybody’s world. Even the folks who drive their cars on the mostly abandoned pavement, seem to do it in a kind of Shabbat manner. More slowly. No honking. And there are very few of them.