… Matan Hayat and a group of fellow, young secular Jerusalemites created “Open on Shabbat,” a program to open cafés on Saturdays as a place to meet and spend time together, but not for ordering food or doing anything that would violate the observance of the Sabbath, which starts at sundown Friday to Saturday night.

“It’s a fact that cafés are a meeting place for people, and on the one day when people have free time, they’re not open,” said Hayat. “Our idea is to open those places and use them as a meeting place that is Sabbath observant, with no commercial usage. We’re just using the space.” […]

“Open on Shabbat” is offering a creative alternative, said Hayat. It will try out a pilot of the project on Friday, November 25, when Humus shel haTechina, a hummus joint in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot next to Mahane Yehuda market, will remain open on Friday night.

There will be a lecture, too, said Hayat, given by Tomer Persico, a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute who also teaches at the department of Comparative Religion at Tel Aviv University.

Each week participants — secular or observant — can meet at a coffee shop and bring their own food and content, be it boardgames, planned lectures and discussions, or newspapers to read and pass around, said Hayat.