Six facts about the Holy Land you need to know about!

Israel is a land steeped in holiness, where a Biblical past meets its modern present. Religion, culture, and people from all walks of life make it a melting pot like no other! Discover the wonder of Israel!

Can you imagine a place where, in the space of just a few minutes, you can go from praying at an ancient wall thousands of years old to sitting in one of Jaffa Street's chic cafes sipping on a Chai Latte as the light rail trundles by? Or where you can spend hours sifting for artifacts from Temple times or sitting in a modern stadium watching the famous Beitar Jerusalem team battle it out in the Israeli Football League while munching on the quintessential Israeli snack, Garinim (sunflower seeds). This is Jerusalem today, the capital of Israel!

On the other side of the country is the coastal city of Tel Aviv, a modern metropolis with hundreds of skyscrapers, a buzzing hive of activity filled with high-tech workers, beach and party-goers, and culinary foodies. Head up north to the holy city of Safed where you can slow things right down. Here, you can get lost in the winding alleys of the ancient city, breathe in the clear mountain air, and bathe in the hot healing springs of nearby Tiberias. Down south are the towns of Be'er Sheva, ancient Hebron, and the Negev desert, where our biblical ancestors tread thousands of years ago.

There really is no place as spectacular in the world like Israel!

Here are some very 'Israeli' customs you need to know about!

1. In Israel, everything is a negotiation!

Whether at the market, like Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem, the taxi, or even in the shopping centers, there is always a deal to be made! Remember, it's the Middle-East, so if there is some shouting or excessive hand waving and gesturing, don't take offense, it's just how things are conducted over here!
If you want to succeed, don't be afraid to be willing to walk away, sometimes the seller will come back with an improved offer, or you can just try your luck the next time. Our tip is to always smile!

2. Israel's most popular street snack is falafel, but a newcomer is on the scene! Sabich!

We know nothing is as delicious as freshly fried crunchy Falafel balls served inside a warm pitta bread with an Israeli salad and lots of tahini drizzled on top. Or is there? In our opinion, Sabich has the potential to better, if not at least equal, the popularity of Falafel as the Number 1 Israeli street food snack.
Deep fried Aubergine slices, and a slow cooked hard boiled egg served in pitta with salad and tahini and the secret sauce on top, amba, a mango pickle sauce which added an incredible further layer of juicy flavor. Trust us, it's a winning combination!

3. In Israel, you can experience the special atmosphere of the Jewish festivals and national days.

Whether it is the millions of lights from the Chanukah candles piercing the dark winter nights, the millions of people wandering the streets of Israeli in fancy dress on Purim, or the tens of thousands of people who flock to the Old City for the midnight Selichot service to pray for forgiveness on 40 consecutive nights leading up to the Rosh Hashanah, it's hard not to be swept up in the national mood of the Jewish festivals and holidays.
Take Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Twice in 24 hours, sirens around the country wail, and the entire nation comes to a two-minute standstill, even on the roads, as drivers pull over and stand by their cars to show respect on this day of mourning. The next evening, the mourning gives way to joy as the entire country heads outdoors to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, with BBQs, military flybys, and street parties as we celebrate the modern miracle of the State of Israel. In Israel, we mourn together and we rejoice together.

4. Unity flows through the veins of every Israeli.

On October 7, 2023, the Hamas invasion of Israel's southern communities, along with Hezbollah's attacks on northern Israel, caught the nation by surprise, leading to hundreds of innocent lives lost and causing hundreds of thousands of internal evacuees as families were moved away from the frontlines to hotels and properties across the country. And what did the people of Israel do?
They opened their homes, hearts, and kitchens and rallied around the evacuees and the families of those on the frontlines. When a soldier tragically fell in battle, thousands of people lined the streets waving Israeli flags to accompany them on their final journey. People donated their time, money, blood, and whatever was needed to support those in need. Even with deep political differences, people united to be there for each other. This is called 'Achdut', unity in Hebrew!

5. Everyone is family!

Only in Israel can you go from meeting a complete stranger on the street to them welcoming you into their home and serving you a whole plate of freshly baked cookies and a cup of hot tea, within five minutes! You might have been previously negotiating with the fresh fruit stall owner for some of his choicest avocadoes, or having a friendly chat with the taxi driver, but don't be surprised (or offended!) if they start asking personal questions about your life, career or marital status, because they are likely going suggest introducing you to their single son or daughter!
That's just how it works in Israel. Families adopt lone soldiers who come to Israel without immediate family, singles are always being suggested family or friends go out with, and people looking for jobs just need to mention it to a couple of people and then discover their phone ringing minutes later with a potential employer on the line. In Israel, we take care of our own!

6. Chutzpah!

This word can mean cheeky, but in Israel, Chutzpah is a unique brand of self-confidence and belief in success, no matter the odds. Chutzpah is what nearly got a tiny Israeli spacecraft to the moon. Chutzpah is declaring the State of Israel despite the imminent threat of invasion from surrounding enemy countries.
Chutzpah is turning a piece of barren land by the sea into a vast, modern, thriving city called Tel Aviv. And Chutzpah is what Rachel, an elderly Grandmother from the southern city of Ofakim, used when she spent hours nattering and baking cookies for a pack of Hamas terrorists who had invaded her home to keep them occupied until security forces could come and rescue her and her husband!

As you may have noticed, Israelis are made up of a unique set of characteristics.

As people of the book, we have learned to replicate the behavior of our biblical forefathers and foremothers who were known for their kindness and generosity towards others, along with their courage and determination in the face of adversity and challenging circumstances. Along with some local habits picked up in the region, there is a reason why Israelis are compared to Sabras, the fruits that are coated in prickles but sweet and delicious on the inside.

To outsiders, they might seem a bit too assertive or in your face, but persevere and you will soon discover that Israelis are the warmest, most caring people you've ever met. And that was only two minutes ago!

So when you plan your next visit to the Holy Land, keep the above facts to hand and you'll feel right at home as soon as your plane touches down!

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Culture & History of Israel