With its unique stature in the world as the birthplace of religious faith, Israel uncovers its century-old Israeli culture, which can be traced back to the age of antiquity.
Rich with astounding heritage, much has been told about the importance of the ancient Israeli culture. It’s now your turn to digest every fact that you can learn about this marvelous country known as the State of Israel.
Israel was established in the first half of the 9th century BCE, and history was written upon its birth. As the birthplace of Jewish tradition, Israel offers an elaborate culture that reflects an extensive knowledge of Jewish custom, culture, diaspora, and the development of modern history.
To appreciate the culture of Israel, you need to understand the great foundation of its philosophy, literature, mysticism, folklore, and the entirety of Judaism.
You will see that all of this knowledge would lead you to the glorious influence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Israel Culture in a Kaleidoscope
According to historians, Israel originated from the Old Testament when God called Abraham to lead his people. With much faith in God, Abraham offered his son Isaac, and this act sealed God’s friendship with him.
Did you know that Abraham is considered the father of Judaism through his son Isaac, while Islam is believed to have originated from his son Ishmael?
Nowadays, contemporary Israel is composed of two competing nations in one region: the Palestinians and the Jewish. You will later discover that the culture in Israel is a reflection of the people’s respective religions.
Moving on, don’t forget that Israel’s culture magnifies not only the customs and traditions of the Jewish and the Palestinian people. The Jewish people, as everyone knows, worship God, while the Palestinians revere Allah.
Amazingly, both of these religions respect their differences in faith. You will learn that from this conflict in faith comes the unending historical background of war and peace.
Location and Geography
Israel is beautifully located in the Middle East along the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. Tourists visit this tiny nation to discover the mystery of the churches found in its territory. Its total land area is 8,019 square miles.
You can say it is slightly smaller than New Jersey. It is mountainous in the central region along the Mediterranean Sea. The Jordan River is a historical part of the nation stretching 322 kilometers from Syria on the northern side down to the Dead Sea, which is technically a lake.
– Israeli People
Israel has a population of about 9,227,700, 74.24% of whom are Jewish, 20.95% are Arab, and 4.81% are related to other religions.
Have you heard Hebrew spoken in prayers? Hebrew is Israel’s national language, which is recognized as the language of prayer. You can hear it recited in churches around the country, and its main goal is to provide the people with a standard language to communicate efficiently with each other.
Arabic is the official language of the Palestine region. You also need to learn the appropriate gestures when speaking this language. On the other hand, English is the standard language in school and the official language of the state.
What better way is there to discover the culture of Israel than by starting to learn its language! You will be immersed in the spontaneity of the Hebrew and Arabic languages.
While Israelis are thought to be aggressive, the truth is that this is the outcome of their Hebrew language, which is more concise, straightforward, and commanding. You can hear more polite expressions through Hebrew intonation rather than merely relying on the literal meaning of their words.
Native speakers of Hebrew prefer to speak in a brisk manner rather than in excessive use of polite words that promote formality and lack of friendliness.
– Reviving the Ancient Israeli Culture
Learning the ancient Israeli culture is fascinating because most of the people’s customs and philosophical ideas are based on the teachings of the bible. Young Jewish children are expected to learn the Torah or the Pentateuch, which are the five books of Moses, from the very beginning.
Parents are obliged to train their children according to traditional Judaism, which includes duties and sacred practices. This training emphasizes respect for parents and adoration to God.
Ancient Israel, although theological, was also influenced by other cultures like the Phoenician, Aramaic, and Zoroastrianism of Ancient Iran. Built by people with a diverse heritage, Israeli culture is a combination of various cultural beliefs, including the Arabs, Russian Jews, Ethiopian, and Secular Jews.
Even in the world of Israeli mythology, you can find traces of myths from Mesopotamia and Babylon, which show various cultures under one umbrella.
– The Influence of Christianity
You already know that Judaism was established in ancient Israel, and it serves as the forerunner of Christianity. You are also now aware of the influence of Judaism and Christianity on the culture of Israel, which is currently stirring societies in the West. The birth of Jesus Christ is a huge testimony of Christian influence in the world.
Do you celebrate Christmas? It’s the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. The commemoration of Holy Week is another Christian heritage. As you dig up more holidays with Christian roots, then you can figure out the impact of Christianity on our world.
– Islamic Heritage
Islam used to be a small religious group that sprung from the Muslim world, but now, it covers many countries on almost all continents on earth. You can’t deny this fact as many nations celebrate Ramadan, an international holiday in the ninth month of the Islamic year.
When it comes to learning the words of God, you can switch to the Qu’ran, which shows how God reaches out to total strangers with blessings. Who doesn’t know the narratives of Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob, and David? These are just a few of the stories that come out concerning the Muslim heritage in the world.
Much has been said about Judaism, which originated in Israel because it has influenced the foundation of Christianity. This is a milestone in history because religion always leaves a mark on a person’s life. For instance, the Torah is the most important item in Jewish life.
God gave it to Moses in Mt. Sinai, and every Jewish person is required to read it. In addition, Israelis are trained to pray based on the teachings of the Torah.
Would you believe that Judaism does not only teach about God but also adheres to a pattern for social reform? It adopts the equality of all human beings. That’s why it actively campaigns against the injustices in this world.
Jewish philosophy supports the fact that as chosen people, they must promote social reforms to make others learn how to positively impact this world. They aim at establishing a just and humane society, transcending relevance in the modern world.
Israeli customs and traditions are based on their Jewish heritage. You can easily see the differences in their culture through their manners, thoughts, and principles in life. Hence, they are called the chosen people.
They understand that they are chosen not because they are excellent or superior to others but because they came with a purpose. Early on, they have learned to be concerned for others, particularly the marginalized in society.
Israeli Economy and Business Patterns
While the country is influenced by diverse religions and cultures, its business culture is also different. You may have perceived the Israelis as ambitious and motivated, as that’s how they manage their daily lives. They choose to be busy and direct rather than slow and aimless in their business deals.
Informality and speed are common characteristics of Israeli business culture. They decide to work in a collaborative manner and focus on the results while they also mix business with pleasure.
You have to know that Israelis like to establish a friendly and relationship-oriented business, and they are clever business partners. To achieve more productive work, Israelis value their time more than ever. Although they are relaxed, they prefer to have efficient time management. That’s why they have several agendas in a single meeting.
It is easy to build a warm business partnership with the Israelis, but the religious avoid physical contact as much as possible. They may show an informal mood in business, but they prefer respect and politeness at work.
The dress code is more of a smart-casual style, but they expect foreigners to come with a higher dressing standard. When meeting an Israeli, you can quickly launch into a very casual conversation because they want to start by creating a personal connection first.
Secularism and Diverse Faith
You might have observed that Israel is the center of a diverse religion in a secular environment. However, this modern Israeli culture shows a fascinating mood because of the many images it portrays. Sometimes, contemporary culture clashes with traditional customs, similar to the modern way young people approach life.
Modern times demand more freedom, but deep religious roots dominate the tradition. For example, the celebration of the Midburn Festival in the Negev Desert reflects the uniqueness of Israeli art. It is characterized by showing off your creativity in a five-day festival in the Negev Desert.
The festival is free as it tries to promote community relations, equality, and art. The festivities culminate with the burning of wooden sculptures as patterned from the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. This symbolizes their fresh start in art, creativity, and expression.
Another secular event that gathers attention in Israel is the Middle East’s biggest gay pride festival in Tel Aviv. Have you heard of Israel’s biggest gay pride festival? It is one of the most talked-about festivals in the country as gay rights are gaining more support, especially when the British Mandate over Palestine made homosexuality illegal.
The drastic policy enforces 10-year imprisonment when a man is accused of having intercourse with another man. In addition, the festival promotes support for the LGBTQ movement.
Family is always the core of every culture, and the Israeli family is no different. They consider family to be a central part of their life. In their society, you can find an individualistic family, which is similar to a nuclear family, and a collectivistic one, composed of extended families. They promote loyalty and responsibility in every home.
Their household structure depends on whether they have a nuclear family or an extended one, which means that they may have a nuclear family living near an extended family. It is important for Israelis to respect the elderly. You may find young Israeli children named after their grandparents, which is their traditional way of honoring their family.
Tradition runs in the family, and this can be seen in the likes of the celebration of tar mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls. This is a much-awaited ceremony for Jewish children to welcome them to adulthood. It usually happens when the boy turns 13 and the girl turns 12.
The gender issue is not a big deal in Jewish society because genders are generally treated equally. For the Hiloni Jews, gender equality is extended to having the same opportunities. Women can work in all sectors of society as long as they are professionally and physically fit for the job. Although the duration is a bit shorter, women also have to serve their compulsory active-duty time in the Israel Defense Force.
Traditionally, the Israeli father is the breadwinner of the family, but for the young secular couples, both husband and wife can work and support their finances. When it comes to marriage, you might be surprised about when Israelis hope and expect to marry. They value the virtue of marriage. That’s why Israeli dating culture is considered important.
Israeli culture is the birthplace of varied religious faiths and traditions that honor diversity and change. You can see the difference in their manner, customs, and language. The Israelis may be called the chosen people, but they never consider themselves superior to others.
In fact, they feel the need to promote social reforms to create a positive impact in this world. For them, being chosen doesn’t mean receiving special preferences. It’s more on living with a purpose.