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What to do and not to do when travelling to Israel

Posted on November 19, 2012 by Korah Morrison in America Israel Travel

Contrary to what you may see in the news, Israel is a safe and western-like country that reunites people from all over the world and where tolerance is widely practiced. However, when coming to this amazing and hospitable country, travelers must remember that Israel’s foundations reside on Jewish religious beliefs and that there are a few traditions and cultural practices tourists should understand to fully enjoy their stay in Israel. Consequently, here are a few things you should do and not do when travelling to Israel.

Sabbath

According to Jewish tradition, Saturday is a day of rest. This day is a religious holiday – the Sabbath. It begins with sunset on Friday and ends with sunset on Saturday.

Keep in mind that during this time most stores, most restaurants and other public places are closed.  Even public transport does not work. If you are planning to go somewhere on Saturday remember that the only transport you can use are taxis.

Driving during this day depends where you are. Driving in most big cities is not a problem. However, avoid going through the religious neighborhoods where streets are usually closed.

When going to someone’s house for Sabbath dinner, remember to not turn their lights off (when going to the bathroom for example). Religious people have them set to be turn on and off automatically since they cannot touch electricity for the whole day.

Security measures

Do not resent about the strict security measures in this country. Israel is a safe country because of its strict security practices to avoid terrorist attacks on public places.  Accept the fact that in Israel you will go through a metal detector on almost every entrance of a public building.

 

In places like shopping centers, banks, trains stations you may also be asked to show your bag for inspection. Treat this with understanding.

It is important not to fool around with the border guards and airport workers, answering questions such as «Are you carrying a bomb?». Respond distinctly, shortly and clearly.

Humorists often spend an hour or two in special rooms for security reasons.

Don’t leave your luggage

Better not to leave your bags and luggage unattended (even for a short period of time), particularly in public areas such as train and bus stations and the airport. It can be regarded as terrorist explosives or other threats.

Avoid taking photos of the military installations, as well as power plants and security checks.

We do not advise to photograph other people’s children, particularly children of orthodox Jews. This is considered very disrespectful. We know they are cute, but keep that experience in your memory and not your camera.

Kosher restaurants

Keep in mind most restaurants in Israel are Kosher. It means that you won’t find any pork, seafood or meat mixed with milk (a cheeseburger for example). But do not worry. There are also lots of non-kosher establishments, mostly in Tel Aviv, where most of the “secular” (not religious) jewish people live.

However, if you go to a kosher restaurant (on them written “kosher”), do not ask: “Do you have pork?”, “Do you serve shrimp?”, and “Can I get a cheeseburger”?

Kosher food is equally as delicious, so enjoy you stay eating kosher in the Holy Land.

 

Always carry a bottle of water

This is very important, because due to the very hot climate in Israel could cause rapid dehydration. Therefore, make it a rule: 2 liters of water – this is the bare minimum during your journey to the Holy Land.

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