Sunday, August 7, 2022

Traditions & Customs in Israel

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Although Israel is a relatively liberal nation with a western perspective, certain limitations should be followed in religiously heated situations or when among specific kinds of religious (Jewish or Muslim) adherents. Those with bare legs (i.e. wearing shorts or short skirts) or ladies with exposed upper arms will usually be denied entry to certain synagogues, most churches, and all mosques. Before entering mosques or synagogues, women may be refused entrance or required to don a robe. Bring a wrap or a change of clothing with you. You must also remove your shoes before entering a mosque. In a synagogue, as well as in the prayers portion of the Western Wall, men should cover their heads. Outside of religiously important places, people dress casually and freely. Israeli women are known for their ability to dress to please, and they are generally successful.

For many, the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the Holocaust/Shoah and much of Jewish history in general, is an emotive subject. (It’s particularly important to honor the Holocaust/Shoah since many Israelis are grandchildren of survivors, and most, if not all, of Israel’s Ashkenazi (European) Jews, who make up half of the Jewish population, lost family members during the Holocaust.) Most individuals, both Israelis and Arabs, would, on the other hand, be delighted to answer your inquiries. Furthermore, one should generally avoid making disparaging comments about Judaism or the Quran to devout Israelis or Muslims. It’s discourteous and may get you into trouble!

Israelis are sometimes compared to the prickly pear, also known as the sabra, which is rough and prickly on the exterior yet sweet and soft on the inside. In other areas of the globe, Israelis are straightforward in a manner that may seem abrupt, even harsh. Do not be upset; Israelis do not want to offend or disrespect anybody. Directness and honesty are often favored above politeness and the appearance of pleasantness. Direct personal inquiries are frequent and should not be seen as rude. The information that Israelis gather about you is intended to assist you rather than to create traps for you. Israelis are used to battling for their right to exist and must contend with familial, religious, military, and other Israeli forces. Debates and discussions that are loud and passionate are socially acceptable and should not be interpreted as hostile. Israelis are usually wary of being labeled a frier, which is frequently translated as “sucker,” and refers to someone who overpays, waits in line silently as others rush by, and is generally taken advantage of rather than sticking up for oneself.

Israelis, on the other hand, are very kind and welcoming. Strangers would happily aid you and will go out of their way to assist a lost or curious visitor, often overloading you with advice and inquiries. If you make a friend here, they will do all in their power to look after you while you’re in their nation. Foreign tourists are cherished and treated with the greatest respect by the natives. As a demonstration of their own national pride and respect for visitors, many will even take you around certain parts of Israel.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, sirens ring and the whole nation draws to a halt to salute the millions of Jews and others who perished in the Holocaust. You, as a guest, should also be respectful.

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