Local Obsessions

How to Kick Off Shabbat in Tel Aviv

by Lotte Beilin
Tel Photo by Lotte Beilin.

Shabbat isn't just about going to temple. Especially in Tel Aviv. We asked local journalist Lotte Beilin for a look at how Israelis usher in the Jewish day of rest in Israel's secular second city.

TEL AVIV – Often thought of in a purely religious sense, Shabbat is special in Tel Aviv, in that it’s celebrated in many different ways by practicing and secular Jews alike. Whether it’s spent in observance or kicked off with a night on the town, the 24-hour reset period from sundown Friday to sunset Saturday is meant to be savored with friends and relished with family. Here a few of my favorite ways to welcome the weekend in Tel Aviv.


A gnarled mulberry tree decorated with fairy lights welcomes guests (and the Sabbath) to the courtyard of Bicicletta, a garden bar in central Tel Aviv with a relaxing, almost Grecian atmosphere. Fantastic food, an array of affordable cocktails, and regular live music set the scene for a chilled-out Friday night that can easily last into the small hours of the morning.


Catch an Israeli production in English at Cameri Theater, considered one of the country’s largest and most prolific theaters. There are up to twelve unique productions staged per year. Located on the same street as Tel Aviv Museum, it makes for a great place to cap off a night of culture in the city center.


Locals love to kick off the weekend at Alphabet, a dance club known for its incredible sound systems and range of music. Located between Rothschild Boulevard and Ahad Ha’am Street, it's around the corner from the Great Synagogue. Pop in for a hearty dance: You’ll find dark techno beats in the main room and lighter, funkier or jazzier tunes in other rooms. No matter your preference, the energy here cannot be beat.


Walk from Neve Tzedek to Habima Square for a glimpse of the Tel Aviv jigsaw. Friday evening, Shabazi Street in Neve Tzedek is filled with religious families leaving synagogue for a Shabbat meal back home. Approaching Rothschild Boulevard, the scene changes as young and secular folk head out for a night of dinner, drinks, and dancing. (Click here for the route.)


Looking for a traditional Shabbat meal? There are people waiting to welcome you via White City Shabbat, an organization that helps connect hosts with dinners of all kinds and creeds. Take part in a communal meal for an inside look at how Shabbat is celebrated, whatever your level of observance.

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