Israel is, perhaps, one of the most unique countries in the world. Nestled in the Middle East, it's definitely far from its neighboring nations. But it also has a culture that's unlike any other. Sure, it may seem common and familiar since there are a lot of Jewish communities all over the world. But at its core, Israel, as a stand-alone nation is truly one of a kind. You'll know it from their customs here too. When you go to the country, you'll find that they act and behave differently than the other countries. And you'd do well in doing the same while you're here!
Men Freely Touching Women in Israel
While the rest of the world has become pretty open and liberated when it comes to male and female relations, Israel is still a bit old-school. It comes to a point that most of the overly religious men—often the older ones—barely touch women at all. Don't get it wrong, they're not misogynists and hate women or anything, but rather, they're actually prohibited to do so by law. According to Jewish law, men are not allowed to touch women who aren't their wives. At the same time, women are not allowed to touch men that aren't their husbands. It's simply the way it is here.
Forgetting to Bring a Gift to Your Host When You're Invited to Someone's Home
When you're invited to someone's home, it's considered rude not to bring anything for him/her. It doesn't have to be fancy, just a small token of appreciation for inviting you over. For hostesses, a bouquet of flowers will do just fine, even ones from your own garden. While for the men, a nice bottle of alcohol will do, especially if it's going to be a lively party. Though bringing a gift isn't exactly a requirement, it's more of a tradition that most people do in Israel. However, if you forgot to bring anything, it's also common for you to help out with the preparations.
Smoking in Public
Go to any district in Tel Aviv
, any corner of Jerusalem, or any part of Haifa and you won't see people smoking in public. That's because it's actually prohibited. The country designated areas for smokers to smoke as much as they can without disturbing the other people around them. Even in the corporate world, where cigarette breaks are practically the norm, there are specific corners in workplaces for people to smoke freely. It's not just that it's the law, it's actually a custom for the Israeli to not smoke in front of people who don't. It's good manners, after all!
Being Late in Business Settings
When you find work in Israel
, you'll find that the corporate world here is pretty serious about time. From the bigwigs at the executive offices to the humble subordinates in the offices, they don't like wasting time. And it's pretty rude for you to be late at any meeting, no matter how important or trivial it may be. It's a huge contrast to those in other countries, where going in late is actually the norm. Here in Israel, if so much as do it once, you'll already be on thin ice. If you really can't go to the meeting on time, the least you could do is call beforehand and let your co-workers know about it.
Refusing Nuts When Offered After Dinner
One unique custom in Israel is that they often eat nuts after dinner. From salty pistachio or roasted nuts to organic sunflower or pumpkin seeds, the Israelis sure do love nuts. And no matter how big a feast dinner was, they always seem to have room for nuts. So when you're to someone's place or to eat out with a few locals, as much as you can, joining them in eating nuts. You don't have to consume as much as they do—their stomachs are used to it—but just a handful would be fine. If you don't, you'll be the odd one out and you'll feel completely out of place.
Not Knowing How Much and Where to Tip
Tipping in Israel isn't exactly required by law, but it is very common. And believe that if you don't, you'll be met with nasty glares and snobby looks. Many workers rely on tips to get by, so help them out when you can. And it's important when and where to tip too. For instance, if your bill was already charged a service fee, then there's no need to tip. But if there's no service charge in the place, a 10% to 15% tip is pretty much the norm. Also, there are no tipping taxi drivers, most especially if you hailed one with a transportation app
The more you know about the customs in Israel, the more you know what not to do when you're here. And it's always important that you behave and act properly in the country you're in. Else, it's going to be an unpleasant stay ahead!
What you should do in Israel, however, is to get a luxury home
for yourself! Now that's considered good manners, mostly for yourself!