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How to Adapt to Israeli Culture

December 8, 2023 271 Time to read: 10 min. Comments: 1

Israel is one of the most developed countries on the planet. Today, citizens of different countries use the services of Israeli medical centers (one of the best in the world), and also go to this country for resorts. It is worth noting that the tourism business here is very developed and Israel receives millions of tourists who want to see the “Promised Land” with their own eyes.

In addition, there are a lot of interesting architectural monuments and historical places. However, many citizens of this country dream of moving to Israel for permanent residence. But in order to fully understand all the advantages of living in Israel, you should first make a little effort and go through the stage of adaptation.

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    Understanding Israeli Culture

    The culture of Israel is an exciting and interesting combination of traditions and customs of people living in the country. Jewish culture is a deep individualism and wealth. It has many features, such as its own calendar, holidays, and of course Hebrew – the language revived in Israel in the XX century. The culture of Israel is also clearly manifested in clothing, literature and dancing.

    In modern Israel, among the attributes of traditional Jewish costume, most Jews wear a kippah – a small, usually knitted hat. Translated from Hebrew, “kipa” means a dome. The kippah can be worn both separately and under a hat. The kippah in the culture of Israel symbolizes respect, love and humility to God.

    Core Values and Beliefs

    Traditional values include the values of religion, close ties between parents and children, as well as respect for elders, respect for authority, traditional roles of women and men in the family and the priority of society over the individual. Saturday is a special and sacred day for Jews.

    Most shops and markets are closed on Saturday in Israel. On this day, Jews do not do any physical work, do not watch TV and try not to have fun.

    Language and Communication

    Israel is a multinational country where you can hear a variety of languages: English, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, etc. Most residents are fluent in two or even three languages. It is important for foreigners to orient themselves in advance on which of them it will be appropriate to speak in this or that case.

    The official language of the country is Hebrew. It is unique in that for such a long time Hebrew could only be heard at services in the synagogue. This situation arose because the State of Israel did not exist before 1948. Israelis lived in groups in other countries around the world.

    The inhabitants of Israel are friendly and hospitable people. Family values are strong in the national mentality of Jews. In Israeli families, children are always in the first place, in whom they put all their strength and love.

    The differences between Orthodox Jews and the rest are quite noticeable. When meeting with an orthodox Jew, he can evade the conversation, or answer very coldly and only to the point.

    However, for the most part, Jews are very sociable, cheerful and friendly. Even at the first acquaintance, it will not be difficult for a Jew to talk on personal themes. Almost the entire population of Israel has a good sense of humor, which is manifested in various jokes that they make about themselves and their friends.

    Etiquette and Manners

    Israelis know at least basic English and will do their best to communicate with you if you ask them how to get somewhere or ask for any other help, but they will also appreciate it if you try to learn some basic Hebrew words.

    Word Means
    Shalom Hello/goodbye, also means “peace”
    Toda Thank you
    Sliha Sorry
    Sababa Israeli slang means “good” or “everything is fine”
    Kama ole? How much does it cost?

     It is widely known that Israelis are very direct, sometimes even rude or aggressive, but this is just an Israeli style of communication and does not mean anything negative at all. Here are some things you are likely to encounter when dealing with Israelis, but don’t worry:

    • During the conversation, they make eye contact and expect you to do the same.
    • They talk loudly and gesticulate all the time
    • They can ask personal questions about your salary, rent and mortgage and share similar information with you; in Israel, these are normal topics for discussion, even among strangers
    • They talk freely with strangers when they are standing in line or waiting for a bus at a bus stop.

    Dress Code and Appearance

    Orthodox Hasidic Jews living in Israel adhere to stricter rules in behavior, food and clothing. Orthodox Jews lead a life according to the Torah, a collection of texts written by Moses from the words of the Almighty.

    The Hasidic costume consists of black trousers tucked into socks, with a white shirt. A black jacket is worn over the shirt, Hasidim have no laces or buckles on their shoes, which symbolizes remoteness from the dirt and bustle of the earth.

    The Hasidic headdress is usually a large black hat, from under which the peis should be visible. Especially revered teachers (rebbe) wear fur hats (straiml). All men’s clothes are sewn only in black and white.

    When making costumes for Orthodox Jews, it is impossible to combine different materials, for example, wool with linen. Such clothes should be sewn by special tailors. Sideburns and a beard are an invariable attribute of an orthodox Jew. A big role among Hasidim is played by a black belt, which can be tied at the level of the heart, abdomen or hips.

    Embracing Local Traditions

    As in any other country, Israel has its own traditions and customs. But, Israel is a unique and unusual country – it is home to many people who have come from different parts of the world, who have brought a lot of new things to the culture and traditions of the country, their own.

    The most interesting traditions of Israel are weddings. I must say that a Jewish wedding is one of the most important foundations of the Jewish way of life, and, like everywhere else in the world, a great occasion for celebration. And although the wedding itself in Israel is subject to many laws and customs, the week before the wedding also has its own traditions and rituals.

    Holidays and Celebrations

    In the culture of Israel there is a place for a large number of cheerful Jewish holidays. All holidays are celebrated according to the Jewish calendar, in which the year begins in September-October. Since in the Jewish tradition the day ends with sunset, all holidays begin the night before.

    Holidays Means
    Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year
    Yom Kippur Judgment Day
    Hanukkah Holiday of purification
    Purim Holiday of the salvation of Jews
    Passover Holiday in memory of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt
    Shavuot Holiday of giving the Torah to Jews

    Food and Dining Customs

    Local cuisine is usually divided into two main categories — Ashkenazi and Sephardic, as well as the population of the country itself. Ashkenazim, who make up about half of the Jewish population of Israel, are mostly descendants of immigrants from Central European countries. People from the Iberian Peninsula, as well as from the south of France, Greece, Turkey and Italy are called Sephardim.

    Another main difference of local products is their kosher nature.

    Since Israel is a religious state, restaurants and shops on its territory strictly follow the rules for Jewish believers from the Jewish code of laws — Halakha, which is compiled on the basis of the commandments of the Torah — the holy book of the Jews (for Orthodox it is the Pentateuch of the Old Testament).

    Tips for Seamless Integration

    Moving to another country is still half the battle, you still need to be able to stay in it — rent an apartment, find a job, get a passport.

    • When looking for housing, a lot depends on which city you want to rent an apartment in and how many tenants are expected.
    • To issue an internal passport (teudat zeut), it is necessary to translate all documents confirming belonging to the Jewish nation into Hebrew, notarize them in Israel and send them to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. If you are outside of Israel, you will have to undergo a consular check.
    • Each new repatriate is entitled to an “absorption basket” — monetary assistance. You can apply for it only during the first year from the moment of obtaining the status of a new repatriate.

    Learning Hebrew

    Many repatriates are wondering is it possible to live without learning Hebrew in Israel, because other languages are widely spoken here, for example, English? The answer is that without knowledge of Hebrew, it is really possible to make purchases, communicate with the local population and even work in a decent company. However, it is still worth learning it, and here are the main reasons for this:

    • Full integration into society.
    • Quick solution of everyday and bureaucratic problems.
    • The possibility of obtaining higher education and building a career.

    Making Local Connections

    Israeli culture has very ancient roots and combines a lot of cultures of different peoples living in this country. Openness, directness are qualities that characterize Israelis. But it’s better to follow a few rules to quickly make friends. “Shalom” is the most common word as a greeting and farewell, but often you will hear “hi” and “hello”. Introducing a person, you just need to call his first and last name; Israelis do not pay much attention to titles. 

    The only strict rule during communication: women should not touch Jews who adhere to strict religious rules. Based on this, handshakes will not be appropriate for a meeting. They dress in Israel quite modestly and simply; one can say informally. On a hot day, a man may not wear a jacket or tie. Jews attending the synagogue always cover their heads, women with a headscarf, men with a kippah.

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      Kenny Gonzalez

      Beautiful culture!!1 I love it !!

      December 28 2023, 02:01
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