Jerusalem is the City of Love. I know the renowned city of love was attacked last week. Paris, the city of bridges with masses of golden and silver locks that declare undying, unbreakable love. Love in Jerusalem is of a different kind. To experience it you need to stroll along its grey paved streets on a Friday morning, through the German Colony, downtown and Machane Yehuda to see the couples ambling along hand in hand perhaps with a buggy, or a dog on a leash. They fill my favourite coffee shops so that I can’t get a table. Young, middle aged, and older couples sit chatting over their Israeli omelettes dotted with parsley. There’s a feeling that everyone has all the time in the world and the ticking clock beckoning the Shabbat candles is muffled under a steaming almond croissant.

Friday morning, I’ve realised, is the reason Israel will never have a Sunday. Friday is Sunday. Yes the argument that Shabbat is a reality, and Friday is spent preparing for it, is true. Even if you don’t keep Shabbat you need to stock up. Most stores are closed on Shabbat especially in Jerusalem, and you can’t buy a loaf of fresh bread for the love of money. This means most couples are hauling around colourful plastic bags, of challah, chocolate krantz cake and hummus. Judging by the smell of chicken soup with kneidlach that wafts through the streets, most people have cooked and are free and easy to sit and enjoy the most romantic day of the week. You see the children aren’t so lucky, they have school. Which means an Israeli Friday morning beats the Diaspora’s Sunday soccer/ party schlepping morning (at least for parents), because it officially becomes ‘date’ morning as sacrosanct as the Shabbat.

I’ve learnt from my friends that nothing messes with their Friday ‘date’ morning. And there’s nothing that fills me with more joy than when I spy them hand in hand with their spouses on the way to their coffee destination. People work hard here, holding two to three jobs, whilst bringing up and servicing a bus load of children, laundering, cooking and cleaning. I’ve always wondered how they survived. Now I know.

Whoever you are Erev Shabbat is a day of connection. Chatting over a cappuccino, therapising over a piece of ricotta cheese cake. Whether you’re single catching up with a friend, or an elderly couple walking arm in arm, dressed to match in a rainbow of beige. There’s a relaxed happiness, that isn’t about what label handbag you own, but about the metaphor of wrinkled, sun spotted hands holding onto each other.

Perhaps it’s the ever present threat of a knife in ones back, a shrapnel sharp lesson that life isn’t forever so we may as well live for today. It makes Israelis walk and sit on their hard earned streets savouring their cappuccinos with their loved ones. They know what it is to grieve. Everyone knows someone whose husband was murdered in a terror attack, whose father was killed in a war, whose son or daughter fell in battle. All these ghosts and black shadows join the round table of cappuccinos reminding us to live, live, live. And life is about the living. It’s about dating our spouse on a Friday morning. Fetching our children from school and holding their hands tight because they are the gift of today. It’s about big family Friday nights that take place throughout Israel, because although God may be forgotten sometimes, family never is.