I was under the false impression that all of Israel shut down from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Not so in Nazareth.
We spent Friday at the Sea of Galilee, taking in three historic Christian sites during the day.
Our first stop was the Mount of Beatitudes, a beautiful church and convent built upon the place where Jesus is believed to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount. It was a beautifully-manicured area and the view of the Sea of Galilee below was stunning. But it was crowded….
Next, we stopped at the Tabgha, also called the Church of the Multiplication, believed to be where Jesus fed the 5,000. Inside the church are several beautiful 5th century mosaics. Augustine was much more interested in the fish in the pond…
Finally, we stopped in Capernaum, an ancient city that many believes Saint Peter lived. There were enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the Galilee (before the rain re-started and downpour began). Also on-site: the ruins of an old synagogue.
We had prepared for Sabbath by buying nuts, fruit, bread, and cheese…we didn’t know what would be open.
But as we drove back down to our guest house in Nazareth (we stayed at the Sisters of Nazareth, a Roman Catholic convent near the Basilica of the Annunciation with very spartan accommodations), we noticed that nothing appeared closed.
In fact, as we reached Nazareth we found it was hopping. Restaurants were open. Stores were open. Everything was open.
This was certainly not Jerusalem…
Why? Nazareth has a large Arab-Isareli population, many of whom are Christians. As a result, they do not observe the Jewish Sabbath but instead take Sunday off.
We found a little restaurant called Tishreen and ate dinner there. The food was wonderful. We had mushroom with cheese and sesame seeds, my wife had chicken, I had lamb, and we shared with Augustine. Even the cappuccino was excellent.
The food was so good we went back again on Saturday night.
On Saturday everything was open as well. Markets. Cafes. Clothing stores.
That certainly gave us an easier time, though I was quite looking forward to the Sabbath experience. Then again, I suppose I picked the wrong city to experience it in…