12 Facts I’ve Learned About Israel After Living There for More Than 6 Months
My name is Anna. I’m a student and I’ve been living in Israel for 7 months now. I discovered the country from a completely different angle when I took part in a masquerade for the first time. I often notice something unexpected and unusual about people from other cultures. I’ll tell you about these things in this article.
Especially for Bright Side, I have collected the strangest, funniest, and the most amazing things about Israel. Some of the observations are just impressions not facts, because I’m not part of their religious culture.
In Israel, both men and women serve in the military and those who don’t have a hard time finding a job.
In Israel every citizen has to serve in the military. At the age of 18, young people join the army. Women have to serve for 24 months and men for 36 months. After that, they can think about their future and start choosing their future profession. I’m 24 years old, but I feel like a child here.
Those who didn’t serve in the military have a really hard time finding a job. Here even those who are religious are required to serve. But now the religious party is trying to make the government pass a law to allow religious people to abstain from serving in the military.
Local people are really good salesmen and love to give discounts.
The Israeli people don’t like it when something goes bad or is thrown away. For this reason, all vegetables cost 2-3 times less on Fridays, especially right before the end of the day.
Also, every Friday in Tel Aviv people throw away things they don’t need. I live in a room with 5 students where half of our electronics and furniture were found on the street. Here, people are okay with this, and oddly it’s considered perfectly normal.
The Israeli people are really good salesmen and love to give discounts. For example, when you’re walking through the streets they’ll offer you 5 chocolates for the price of one. And they’re really surprised when you don’t take them up on their offer.
Holidays and traditions are very important for every citizen.
In Israel, religious holidays and Jewish traditions play a big role in the daily lives of all citizens. This is great. Besides, it means extra days off. I came here 7 months ago, and since then there have been this many holidays:
- Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) This holiday takes a few days. All roads are blocked and flights are even canceled! During this holiday, all non-religious citizens travel by bike.
- Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) According to the Jewish calendar, it’s year 5578 now. I like the tradition of eating apples covered in honey so the new year will be sweet, as people here believe.
- Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) This also takes a few days. Small huts are constructed for eating inside. Palm tree leaves are used for the roof. The huts are decorated with different toys made of colored paper.
- Hanukkah This is the most interesting holiday. It takes 8 days. People eat donuts and light special lamps that they add one candle to every day. These lamps or candleholders can be found in the streets and at home.
- Purim A three-day spring masquerade. This holiday is really only for school students, but in Tel Aviv everyone participates: children, adults, religious, and non-religious people. People even wear their costumes to work.
- Passover This is the only tradition I’ve known about since childhood and it’s one of the brightest holidays of the year. During Passover ordinary bread is substituted with matzah.
There is a strong rip current in Tel Aviv.
There is a strong rip current in Tel Aviv’s sea. Because of this, there are breakwaters on almost all of their beaches, and where there aren’t any it’s prohibited to swim. Oddly, rescue teams only work until 4 pm! At this time all locker rooms are closed, so everyone goes to the public toilets to change clothes which is really inconvenient.
Israel is a country of cats and dogs, and all animals are vaccinated.
Tel Aviv is a city of dogs. Here, they even have a special beach for dogs. It’s right in the middle of a gay beach and a datiim (a closed beach for religious people). In Israel, there are special fees for those who own dogs and the amount depends on the initial price of the dog. So it’s much easier to adopt a stray dog. And all animals have microchips, even cats.
There is a lot of really tasty food.
Kashrut is a very important aspect of food life here. They put a special symbol on food which notes the specific rabbi who made or blessed this food. In Israel, it’s very hard to find non-kosher foods and half the cafes are “kosher.”
It’s very easy to gain weight in Israel because there’s so much tasty food everywhere. In the fall and winter I bought huge mangoes almost every day, after the new year I bought strawberries, and let’s not even discuss avocado season. The only problem is that sometimes it’s hard to buy non-kosher meat in supermarkets, and kosher meat costs more.
Winter lasts for 2 months and there is no central heating.
The winter lasts for around two months here. During this time, everyone wears more clothes than usual and turns on individual a/c units to warm their homes because there is no central heating here.
In summer, water is heated by solar panels. And in winter, the water is heated by electricity. In summer, when it’s terribly hot you can ask for a free a glass of water. And there are fountains with drinking water everywhere, especially in parks.
There are many shops that sell special food for vegetarians.
If you are a vegetarian living in Tel Aviv, you are very lucky. When I first came to a cafe here and ordered a fruit smoothie, a waiter surprised me with a question: “Regular milk, soy milk, water, or juice?” Here it’s perfectly normal in any neighborhood to find several “green” stores with special food.
A country created for bikers, electric skateboards, and scooters
Now I have an internship in Tel Aviv but I live in Ramat Gan which is like working in Manhattan and living in Brooklyn. So, for me the only way to get to the beach during Shabbat is a bike which almost everyone uses.
There are special rules regulating all means of transportation. There are special bike lanes in the city and electric bikes, skateboards, and scooters are very popular here.
During Shabbat nobody works, the shops are closed, and there is no public transportation.
Shabbat is an amazing time when you are supposed to forget about all daily stressors, spend time with your relatives, and not do any work. Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and finishes on Saturday at around 6 p.m. During this time there is no public transportation except for some random buses which come and go without a schedule.
Israeli women are themselves more than girls from other countries.
HaYarkon Park which is a huge green space that connects Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, and the riverfront is full of running men who are trying to get in shape to find a woman. Because there are more men than women in Israel, women feel freer than anywhere else.
Women look natural, they don’t dress up, and girls wearing high heels are very rarely seen.
Men take the children to school and never punish them.
I had heard that Israeli men are good fathers and I live near a school where fathers take their children to school every day by bike. A usual scene in Tel Aviv involves a father walking with a stroller and a dog. On Saturdays, everyone goes on picnics. Here, parents never punish their children and if someone sees that a person spanked their child, they might be deprived of their parental rights.
Just 100 years ago there was nothing in the spot where Tel Aviv is currently, and now this is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen.
Which of my observations seemed the most unexpected for you?