May 9, 2009

Empty Sabbath Streets
Jerusalem, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

According to Jewish law, the operation of a motor vehicle constitutes multiple violations of the prohibited activities on Sabbath.

Although this law is based on texts that existed long before the existence of the automobile, the Torah prohibits driving on the basis that a labor is being performed by the act of operating a motor vehicle. The vehicle's ignition creates a spark, which violates one of 39 prohibited activities on the Sabbath. Additionally, the laws of Shabbat place limits on the distance one may travel beyond the city/town where one is spending Sabbath, regardless of the method of transportation.

While the operation of a motor vehicle violates Sabbath laws, another question is if it is permissible to ride as a passenger in a vehicle driven by a gentile. Some Orthodox rabbis have ruled that since a passenger being present in a vehicle may cause the vehicle to require additional fuel versus the absence of that passenger, this practice is generally not permitted.

The result? Empty streets in the heart of Jerusalem in the middle of a Saturday afternoon…




August 18th, 2009

Awesome. Do the gentiles and Reform types get out to use the day as a good time to bicycle or have parties in the street?


Craig |

August 19th, 2009

It's certainly a nice time to get out, except that almost every shop and store is closed. There's (obviously) a big drop in traffic, but there are still plenty of non-practicing or non-Jews in Israel so that there's often still cars moving about. Clearly, it's more pronounced in Jerusalem.

Israel and the Palestinian Territories


September 2nd, 2009

Jerusalem looks like a different country. In Tel Aviv, many cafes and restaurants are still open, but there is certainly much less traffic, kind of like Sunday afternoon in other parts of the world. Just north of Tel Aviv is a Kibbutz that operates a gigantic shopping center. It's packed like any American suburban mall.

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