Photo by Rodrigo Comisarenco
Before you travel to Israel, it's a good idea to brush up on some cultural faux pas so you don't step on anyone's toes. Here are 9 tips for any traveler who might not be the most familiar with local customs.
(Note: Most of these only apply to religious Jews and Muslims. Since it's generally better to be safe than sorry, I say shoot for "always" and "never" until the local you're with says not to worry about it.)
by Rudolfo Clix 1. When using public transit or attempting to enter any crowded area (like a bank, food markets, and other such very public places), don't expect a neat and polite line. Use the gentle nudge of your elbow to get a spot - if not, you might never get in!
by Rudolfo Clix
2. Refrain from greeting, touching or extending a handshake to Jewish and Muslim devout women. Men should wait for an Israeli woman to offer, if she even does at all.
by Mee Lin Woon
3. If a man does not introduce his wife or daughters, overlook it and ignore them as well. It will be extremely disrespectful if you speak to, speak of, or look at any of them.
by Julio Cezar
4. Never accept or give a gift with your left hand. The left hand and soles of feet are considered impure.
by Jill Smith
5. Do not order pork or any seafood besides fish when dining with the Jewish host. When dining with Muslims avoid pork and alcohol. Eat only with the right hand even if you are left-handed. Might be a good idea to practice that before you leave - it really is an acquired habit.
6. In certain settings it will be mandatory that you remove your shoes, like before entering a home. When removing shoes lay them on their sides with the soles facing each other. I still haven't figured out the trick with sandals though.
by Craig Jewell
7. Gesturing of all sorts is acceptable, but never point with the index finger. Thumbs should never point either, such as in a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" gesture. Fortunately since you are typically lost when you travel to Israel, chances are slim you will mess up giving directions. ;)
by Igor Grillo
8. Never cross your legs in a manner that will allow them to see the bottom of your foot or shoe. Don't bother arguing that they do it all the time when they pray, it's pointless.
9. One of the most important customs for religious women in the country - knees and elbows must be covered and wear high collared clothes. Although this is optional for newcomers, it's always best to avoid the strange looks and follow customs.
And here's a bonus tip - always have fun when you travel to Israel! (which really is too easy...)