«What do Jews do all day on Saturday?»

Why do orthodox Jews leave their room doors open on a Saturday? And, above all, what do religious Jews do on a Saturday when so many things are forbidden? These questions and others were the focus of attention at the Likrat Public encounter held at the FIFA Hotel Ascot in Zurich.

The FIFA Hotel Ascot is located right next to the Israelitische Cultusgemeinde ICZ (Jewish Community Zurich) in Zurich and is popular among Jewish guests. Its popularity is probably due to its central location but also because of its proximity to ICZ and the fact that the hotel offers a kosher breakfast on request.

About dietary laws

The hotel staff are used to dealing with practicing Jewish guests and they are clearly interested in learning more about Jewish traditions: 15 employees attended the encounter and listened carefully to Jonathan and Liora from Likrat Public. Liora explained Jewish dietary laws to the staff – among them, kitchen staff, receptionists and waitresses – and handed out kosher gummy bears. The verdict was unanimous: there is no difference in taste.

About the Shabbat

The explanations on the topic of the Shabbat surprised one of the participants: «What do you do then all day Saturday if everything is forbidden?» she asked. Jonathan explained that he doesn’t see the Shabbat as a restriction in any way, but rather as a liberation: «During the Shabbat , you think about the really important things in life: family, friends, prayer and food. I enjoy the Shabbat very much. And it feels good to put aside your phone one day a week and escape the hectic side of day-to-day life.»

All questions are allowed

Liora explained why some religious men don’t shake hands with women. The two Likrat Public specialists were then bombarded with questions – after Jonathan had made it clear once again that there are no forbidden questions or taboos: «Why, on a Saturday, do our Jewish guests stand waving in front of the automatic doors and wait until someone opens the door for them?» or «Why do our Jewish guests ask for a normal key on a Saturday even though we have modern, electronic key cards?» and «Why do some Jewish women wear a wig?»

In this relaxed atmosphere, the hotel staff received answers to all of their questions. «Today I received answers to any questions that I wouldn’t ask our Jewish guests directly,» said Front Office Manager Caroline after the meeting of almost one hour. «That’s why this meeting was really very interesting.»

Gallery: Likrat Public encounter at the Ascot

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Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG)
Likrat
Gotthardstrasse 65
P.O. Box 2105
CH-8027 Zurich

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