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Friday Night Dinner in Israel

Ahh, Friday night! Time to hit the cinema? The club? Maybe not, if you're in Israel. Let's talk about Friday night dinner in Israel. It's a major part of the culture here!

Various dishes on a table prepared for Friday night dinner
Credit: Rebecca F

Friday nights in Israel are different than most. All of Israel slows down on Friday. The workweek is Sunday through Thursday, and on Fridays, the whole country, religious or not, seems to be preparing for Shabbat.

Stores and restaurants close, and while some bars, restaurants, and clubs do remain open, it is generally quiet even in the city. So what is everyone doing? Eating Friday night dinner!

Israelis get together with their families on Friday night for a meal. It's very common for "kiddush" to be made -- that is the blessing over the wine. Right after there is usually a blessing over the challah as well. These are traditions to sanctify the Sabbath, although people often do it whether they are religious or not!

Ask anyone what their plans are for Friday night -- the answer will very likely be "going to my mom's," or "going to my savta's" (grandma). There is nothing like the spread at a Friday night meal -- it's best to prepare beforehand! Have a light lunch, and be aware that there is going to be a lot of food. Typically, the meal starts with salatim (dips) such as hummus, eggplant dip, tehini, and more with challah. Then, there is often delicious fish such as "chraime", a spicy Moroccan fish. If it's winter, there might be soup. Then of course comes the main dishes -- chicken or meat of some sort. Like we said... a lot of food.

Here's a great thing. You can always find somewhere to go for Friday night dinner. The taxi driver, the bus driver, the waiter at the restaurant -- everyone will invite you over for a Friday night dinner.

There are also almost always community meals in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. These were more common during pre-COVID times, but still, we anticipate they will come back!

So, what are you doing this Friday night?


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