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9 Tips Before You Travel to Israel

Posted by Iris Hami on Apr 9, 2008, 7:52:27 PM

tips for travel to Israel
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.)

travel to israel tips crowd

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!

travel to israel tips woman hands

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.

travel to israel tips children family

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.

travel to israel tips left hand

by Julio Cezar

4. Never accept or give a gift with your left hand. The left hand and soles of feet are considered impure.

travel to israel tips food eating

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.

travel to israel tips shoes

by L.T.

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.

travel to israel tips pointing

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. ;)

travel to israel tips shoe bottom

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.

travel to israel tips fashion9. 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...)

Topics: Israel Travel