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Holidays in Israel

Understanding Israel


While the State of Israel is relatively new country founded in 1948, the Land of Israel has a long and often very complex history stretching back thousands of years to the very beginnings of human civilization It has been invaded by virtually every empire worth its salt including the Persians, Romans, Ottomans and British It is also the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity Jerusalem is also a sacred city for Muslims

Israel has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, with Neanderthal remains from the region dating back 50,000 years Its strategic location serving as the gateway from Asia to Egypt and Africa had made Israel an ideal target for conquerors through the ages The first nation to have influence was the great Egyptian civilization Approximately 1000 BC, an independent Judean Kingdom was set up under King Saul After intermittent civil war, the land was conquered by the Assyrians and Persians and in ~330 BC by Alexander the Great A newly independent Jewish state ruled by the Maccabees was conquered in 63 BC by the Romans Around 30 AD, Jesus of Nazareth began his ministry in the Galilee

Following a Jewish revolt against the Romans in 70 AD, the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem by the Romans, creating a substantial Jewish diaspora throughout the world However, many Jews did remain in the Land of Israel outside Jerusalem for a few centuries, although perseuction gradually eroded at whatever Jewish population was left in their homeland The area was captured by Muslim invaders in the 7th Century In the middle ages, European Christians invaded in a period known as the Crusades and established a small kingdom, but after a few centuries were expelled The land was then ruled for many years by different Muslim empires, culminating in the Ottoman Empire

During WWI, Palestine, as it was known, was captured by the British The British agreed to support the idea of European Jews returning to their ancestral homeland During the 1920s and 1930s there was mass migration of Jews into Palestine, many of them European Jews fleeing from anti-Semitic riots which would eventually lead to the Holocaust By 1939 the population of Palestine was one-third Jewish by comparison, in 1917 the population was only 10% Jewish

The Jewish nationalist movement was strengthened significantly because of the events of World War II Many major powers, including the Americans, endorsed Jewish independence in Palestine as the only way to ensure the survival of the Jewish people The British were more hesitant, however, as they worried about a possible Arab revolt The Jewish nationalists, emboldened by support from the Americans and the French, grew impatient with the British delay in granting independence and started several armed uprisings of their own against British rule

After two years of growing violence, in the fall of 1947 the British decided to withdraw their troops from the area The UN recommended that the territory of Palestine be partitioned into two states: A Jewish state, and an Arab state The Jews accepted the plan, but the Arabs firmly rejected it Nonetheless, half a year later, on May 14, 1948, Jewish nationalists declared independence as the State of Israel The Arabs responded with a military invasion The Israelis won a decisive victory Over the course of the war, approximately 600,000 Arabs in Palestine fled from the territory of the newly proclaimed Jewish state To this day, it is hotly debated whether Israel forcibly expelled these people or they moved out on their own

Further fighting continued over the next few decades, and in 1967 the Israelis won another decisive victory against the Arabs Following this victory, a slow movement towards peace and reconciliation began In 1979, peace was concluded between Israel and Egypt, and in 1994, a similar peace treaty was signed with Jordan Both agreements have held to this day Attempts to create similar treaties with Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian-Arabs have failed, and in 2000 violence resurfaced when Palestinian-Arabs launched a violent insurrection against Israel By 2007, Israel had crushed this revolt With the exception of the Gaza area which has seen continued violence, most of the country is now at peace, although deep tensions remain


Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, chemicals and chemical products, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, rubber, plastics, and textiles are the leading exports For many years Israel posted sizable current account deficits, which were covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans However, the tight fiscal policy of recent years and the high growth rates have led Israel to a budget surplus in 2006 Roughly half of the government's foreign debt is owed to the US, which is its major source of economic and military aid The influx of Jewish immigrants from the former USSR during the period 1989-99 coupled with the opening of new markets at the end of the Cold War, energized Israel's economy, which grew rapidly in the early 1990s But growth began moderating in 1996 when the government imposed tighter fiscal and monetary policies and the immigration bonus petered out Growth was a strong 64% in 2000 But the bitter Israeli-Palestinian conflict, increasingly the declines in the high-technology and tourist sectors, and fiscal austerity measures in the face of growing inflation have led to declines in GDP in 2001 and 2002 However, in 2007 the economic growth was 53% and the inflation was only 04% In the first six months of 2008 tourism has grown with 45%


The most obvious division in Israel's society is between Jews - who make up 77% of the population in Israel proper and 15%-40% in areas captured by Israel during the Six-Day War West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan - and non-Jews mostly Israeli-Arabs, who make up nearly all of the rest As well, some 350,000 people who emigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union are not considered Jews according to halacha Jewish law though they larglely identify with the Israeli mainstream In terms of religious backgrounds, 77% are Jewish, 16% are Muslim, 4% are Christian Arabs and 2% are Druze a Muslim offshoot considered heretical by mainstream Islam

There are also deep divisions within Jewish society First is the ethnic division between the 'Ashkenazim', who lived in Europe for nearly 2000 years and are generally considered wealthier and politically better connected, and the 'Sephardim' and 'Mizrahim', who immigrated from the Middle East, Yemen and North Africa Sephardi and Mizrahi immigrants from Europe tend to match the socio-economic profile of Ashkenazim In recent years, the divide between these ethnic groups has, however, grown much less acute and intermarriage has become common

While ethnic divisions have weakened as the native-born population has increased, religious tensions between 'secular' and 'Orthodox' Jews have increased The spectrum ranges from the stringently-orthodox 'haredim', only 15% 2008 est of the population but able to wield a disproportionate amount of power thanks to Israel's fractious coalition politics, to 50% who are 'modern orthodox' and finally 45% who consider themselves secular, although still adhere to some traditions While secular Jews are widespread throughout all of Israel, orthodox Jews tend to concentrate mostly in certain cities such as Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Ashdod


Israel's time is + 2 hrs from GMT so when it's 6PM GMT, 1PM EST, it's 8PM in Israel Daylight saving time Summer time begins on the last Friday before April 2nd, and ends on Saturday between the Jewish holidays of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur

Public Holidays in Israel follow the Jewish calendar and as such vary from year to year although tend to fall within the same few-week period Different levels of activity stop in Israel depending on the festival or holiday, and different areas will see different levels of activity on these days The public transportation, for example, tends to completely stop its activity in many holidays In the Jewish tradition, a new day begins with the appearance of three stars in the sky, which means that Jewish holidays begin in the afternoon hours a day before the official date In general, Israel is a secular country, so most festivals won't see big changes in the levels of activity

Official national holidays are bolded

  • Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, Falls between Sept 5 & Oct 5
  • Fast Day of Gedaliah Tsom Gedalyah ben Ahikam, Falls two days after the first day of Rosh Hashanah New Year
  • Day of Atonement Yom Kippur, Falls between Sept 14 & Oct 14 The holiest day of the year - this is the day 'when everything stops', including all shopping, public and private traffic, etc
  • Feast of Tabernacles Booths Sukkot*, Falls between Sept 19 & Oct 19 Only the first and last days are national holidays, however there may be some disruption during the intermediate days
  • Assembly of the Eighth Day Simchat Torah/Shemini Atzeret, Falls between Sept 26 & Oct 26 Street festivals and dancing are common in most cities and towns on the preceding evening
  • Yitzhak Rabin's Remembrance Day Yom Hazikaron le Yitzhak Rabin
  • Feast of Rededication First Day Hanukkah, Falls between Nov 27 & Dec 27 Celebrated in public as well with big Hanukiyot lamps lit by fire which are lit by sundown
  • Tenth of Tevet Fast Tsom Asarah b-Tevet
  • Fifteenth of Shvat Tu Bishvat New Year of the Trees similar to an Arbor Day
  • Fast of Esther Ta`anit Ester
  • Memorial Feast for the Triumph of Esther Purim*, Falls between February 24 & March 26 Street parades are common on this day
  • Passover Pesach, Between March 26 & April 25 Only the first and last days are national holidays, however there may be some disruption during the intermediate days No bread or grain products are sold or served in most places during this week
  • Seventh day of Passover Shvi'i shel Pesach, Falls between April 1 & May 1
  • Holocaust Remembrance Day Yom HaZikaron LaShoah VeLaGevurah, Falls between April 7 & May 7 At 10AM, air raid sirens sound and the entire country comes to an eerie standstill for two minutes Places of entertainment are closed on this day and its eve
  • Fallen Soldiers Remembrance Day Yom Hazikaron, Falls between April 14 & May 14 Air raid sirens sound and the entire country observes a minute of silence in the morning and preceding evening
  • Independence Day Yom Ha-Atzmaut, Falls between April 15 & May 15 Large street festivals, city-wide parties and fireworks are common on the preceding night
  • 33rd day of the `Omer Lag Ba'omer, Bonfires are common on the preceding night
  • Jerusalem Day Yom Herut Yerushalayim, Large parades and festivals occur in Jerusalem
  • Pentecost Shavuot, Falls between May 15 & June 14
  • Seventeenth of Tammuz fast Tsom Shiva` Asar b-Tammuz
  • Ninth of Av fast Tisha B'Av Destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples
  • Fifteenth of Av Tu B'Av Festival of Love

Talking in Israel

Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel Hebrew is most commonly spoken 20% of the population are Israeli-Arabs who speak Arabic as well

Because Israel was a British colony, and also because the United States is now Israel's closest ally, English is the most popular foreign language Israelis study English in school from an early age, and it is commonly understood in Israel Nearly anyone you meet on the street will be able to communicate with you in English All street and road signs and many others have English names, as well as the Hebrew and Arabic names

Massive immigration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s brought a large number of immigrants who speak Russian Other commonly encountered languages in Israel, reflecting the diverse origins of Israelis, include Romanian, French, German, Polish and River Plate Spanish Some of the older members of the population and some of the ultra-orthodox population speak Yiddish, an Eastern-European Germanic Jewish language Foreign workers from China, Philippines, Thailand, and other Asian countries can be seen everywhere in central Israel You can hear a mix of a dozen languages while on buses, trains or walking in transportation hubs, especially in Tel Aviv central bus station

While speaking Hebrew Slang, words of Arabic origin are commonly used For example: "Walla?" Is that so?, "Yalla!" Come on, let’s move!, "Sababa" great, "Akhla" good, "Sachbak" friend, and many more Street talk is also much affected by the military language, which is second nature to many Israelis

See also: Hebrew phrasebook, Arabic phrasebook

What to see in Israel

  • Machtesh Ramon - The 40KM long crater-like landform offers some breath-taking desert vistas

What to do in Israel

A large number of major attractions in Israel are located some distance from large towns and cities:

  • Israel National Trail — a marked leisure trail hiking or cycling covering 940 kilometers from north to south
  • Jesus Trail, a hiking trail from Nazareth to Capernaum covering 65 kilometers that connects major Christian sites in the Galilee
  • Rappelling or offroading in the Negev

Buying stuff in Israel


The Israeli currency is the New Israeli Shekel NIS Colloquially, it is called a shekel plural: shkalim or sha-ch Each shekel is divided into 100 agorot The common symbols for the shekel are ש״ח or ₪

The following banknotes are in circulation: NIS 20 green, NIS 50 violet, NIS 100 brown, NIS 200 red Newer NIS 20 notes are made of polypropylene and are almost impossible to break or tear Paying with large notes for small charges is frowned upon

Coins in use: 10 Agorot copper, 1/2 Shekel copper, 1 New Shekel nickel, 2 New Shkalim nickel, 5 New Shkalim nickel, 10 New Shkalim bi-metallic; copper core, nickel rim

ATMs are available everywhere Credit cards of all kinds are widely accepted Note that the showing of the Visa logo by an ATM does not especially mean it takes all types of Visa cards, at the moment the ones with Chip-and-Pin technology seem to be only accepted by Bank Leumi ATMs

You can get VAT refunds when leaving the country, though be prepared to queue at the airport Eilat is a VAT-free city for citizens as well as for foreigners, but being a resort city it is often more expensive to begin with

US Dollars are accepted in some tourist locations, particularly Jerusalem, at a rough exchange rate of 4 NIS to the dollar If you are asked for dollars or euros outright, you are most likely being ripped off


Living and travelling costs in Israel are almost on a par with Western Europe, North America and Australasia, making it by far the most 'expensive' country in the Middle East region outside the Gulf area

Small food kiosks pitzukhiot offer various snacks such as freshly roasted peanuts, sunflower, and melon seeds, soft drinks, cigarettes and candy Take note that currently June 2009 the price of a soft drink can is between 5 and 8 shekels and a 05L bottle is generally one shekel more expensive than a can Prices in tourist areas in big cities, especially tourist cities like Eilat can be up to 20 shekels per 05L bottle, however often a small walk will reveal the more local places that will sell you 6 15L bottles for as cheap as 32 shekels In fact, it is possible to buy a 6 pack of 2 liter "Ein Gedi" bottles for a preset price of 12 shekels

Fast food wise, a shawarma in lafa should cost roughly 24-30 shekels drink not included, while a regular meal at a burger chain McDonald's, Burger King and the local Burger Ranch will set you back at least 35 shekels -- and there is no such thing as a "free refill" anywhere in the country

Restaurants generally are in a high standard of taste and style, a first course averages 15-25 shekels, a main dish about 40-60 good meat can go from 60-100 and the desserts are usually 25-35 shekels Soft drinks are somewhat costly and usually go for 10-12 shekels for an average sized glass without refills


Restaurants - Tip 10%-15% 10% is the minimum 15% is the "good job" tip 20% is considered a generous tip

Hotel staff - Western standard tipping

Tour guides - Tipping is not socially mandated Tip at your discretion

Bartenders - Tipping is not socially mandated, but a 10 shekel coin is a common gesture

Hair - Tip 10 shekels for each person touching your hair

Moving - Tip 50 shekels per worker if you were satisfied

Food delivery - Tip 10 shekels 15 shekels if arrived fast and hot

Groceries delivery - Tip 10 shekels

Other deliveries - No tipping

Handymen - No tipping

Taxi drivers - No tipping

Business hours

The business days are Sunday through Friday in Jewish towns, allowing for observance of the Sabbath "Shabbat" from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday On Friday, many shops will close at about 14:30-15:00 to allow ample time return home before sundown Many shops, especially in malls, will re-open on Saturday evening, at about 19:00 in winter, and 20:30 in summer Some shops, especially outside city limits or in tourist areas, as well as 24-hour convenience stores, remain open on Saturdays In Arab towns, shops are generally open 7 days a week

Shops in malls and on major shopping streets are generally open from 9:30 to 21:00 daily Banks and post offices, as well as some smaller shops, stick to traditional business hours of 8:30-19:00, with a lunch break from about 13:00 to 16:00, so do check

Markets usually open and close early


Bargaining in Israel is prevalent Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult for foreigners to figure out when bargaining is expected and appropriate A general guideline: Sales agents, high prices, or no displayed prices -- bargain Anything that looks established or corporate -- don't

Bargaining in bazaars and rural markets is common yet subtle Vigorous bargaining which is common in developing countries will likely get you nowhere and is improper If you are giving a fair price, don't bargain for sport -- it is frowned upon

Bargaining in shops with sales agents is expected for example, in an electric appliance store Sticker prices are exaggerated for the purpose of bargaining It is best to compare offers and figure out the true market price before purchasing

Bargaining is improper in small mom and pop shops that sell low-cost items

Bargaining with independent service providers technicians, plumbers, movers, handymen is common It is not with non-independent service providers hired employees

In shops with displayed prices where you are not dealing with a sales agent bargaining is improper and will get you looks of bewilderment This includes corporate shops eg McDonald's, Starbucks, most stores in malls without sales agents, and pretty much all businesses a tourist interacts with with the exception of travel agents: accommodation, transportation, food including food stands in markets, and entertainment

If you are bringing a large group of people to a club or a bar, it may be possible to negotiate a discount before arriving with the group If you are already there, bargaining won't get you anything substantial

Prices in tourist traps such as the Old City of Jerusalem can routinely be haggled down to as low as 25% of the asking price Usually it's easier to make a deal if you are buying multiple items rather than a single item

When buying larger items eg electronics, it's often possible to get a discount of about 3% for paying in cash

Bargaining with taxi drivers over fare is possible, though rarely to your advantage It is best to instruct them to use the meter moneh if they don't already do so as required by law


Israeli wine, kosher products, t-shirts, diamonds Almost needless to say, Israel is one of the best countries for purchasing Judaica and Christian pilgrim trinkets

While it is legal to purchase antiquities from the small number of government-licensed dealers, exporting antiquities from Israel is illegal, except with a written authorization from the Israel Antiquities Authority 19

Food and eating in Israel

Israeli cuisine is as diverse as the population which makes up this gastronomic country Food here is generally of a very high standard, and immigrants from around the world mean that almost every genre and type of food is available Not tipping in sit-in restaurants that have waiters is frowned upon It is standard to give 10%-15% or more for exceptional service 20% tip is considered generous Including a service charge in the bill is no longer legal in Israel and should not be paid In recent years, restaurants have been charging a "security fee" - roughly 1-2 NIS per person However, this fee is not mandatory, and it is common to ask for the fee to be removed from the bill

Most restaurants accept credit cards, but do not accept personal checks If you wish to include the tip in your credit card charge, state this before paying

Fast and popular

Falafel was officially adopted as the national food These are small fried balls of mashed chickpeas, usually served inside a pita bread with hummus-chips-salat hummus, French fries and vegetable salad and tehina A selection of more salads is usually available, and you can fill your pita with as much as it can take This is usually the cheapest lunch available 10-15NIS, and it's vegetarian You can also order half a serving "kheh-TSEE mah-NAH"

Another popular option is shawarma, sliced turkey or lamb meat, also served inside a pita, or its larger cousin lafa, with hummus-chips-salat Many other things can fit your pita: for example, Me'orav Yerushalmi Jerusalemite mix, which contain several types of meat, or Schnitzel, a batter fried chicken breast somewhat inspired by the Viennese original

Hummus, a cream of chickpeas, tehina, onion, lemon and olive oil, is also served on a plate, and scooped up with small pieces of pita At places that specialize in Hummus, you can find the dish topped with chopped lamb, fried chicken breast and many other different toppings

Another street food gaining popularity is the Iraqi-origin sabich sabich, a pita bread stuffed with a hard boiled egg, batter-dipped deep fried eggplant, hummus, tehina, and salad

Dietary restrictions

Kosher food

The Hebrew word Kasher כָּשֵר, pronounced by East-European Jews as Kosher, means "fit" in Israel, gyms are known as kheder kosher, ie fitness room When associated with food, it means anything that is allowed by the Jewish religious laws concerning food These laws are quite complex, but the short version is that they totally forbid certain products such as pork and shellfish, and allow others only under restrictions - most importantly, that meat and dairy products are not to be cooked together or eaten at the same meal, which bans all sorts of Western staples like cheeseburgers and pizzas with meat toppings In addition, lighting a fire on Shabbat is forbidden, so only cold or long-simmered food is allowed Having said this, due to the secular nature of much of Israel, many foods can be found, and many restaurants aren't kosher depending on the region Kosher laws do not usually apply to Arab areas of Israel unless they cater to mixed clientele, although Halal dietary laws the Muslim equivalent do

Most of the hotels in Israel are Kosher, so breakfast is dairy, and during lunch and dinner you'll not be able to get milk for your coffee or butter for your bread although soy milk and margarine are common substitutes Most big supermarkets sell only Kosher products, but more and more non-Kosher supermarkets and convenience stores have appeared in recent years, due in part to the huge numbers of secular Jews who have come to Israel from the former USSR With restaurants, things are more complicated: in Tel-Aviv, there are fewer kosher restaurants than in more religious cities like Jerusalem In Jerusalem, on the other hand, Kosher cafes and restaurants are much more common Bear in mind that restaurants that remain open on Shabbat cannot receive Kosher certification, so some restaurants that do not carry a Kosher certification are nevertheless kosher as far as the food is concerned, and could have kosher kitchens So if you care, you shouldn't assume anything and always ask Where restaurants are kosher, they will either be dairy or meat Dairy restaurants are useful for vegetarian tourists, but still are likley to serve fish and egg products

One attraction for practicing Jewish and other tourists is the kosher McDonald’s restaurants Note that most of the branches are not kosher, so ask before ordering Most Burger King restaurants in Israel are kosher, though - and so are branches of Burger Ranch, an Israeli burger chain In addition, Pizza Hut branches in Israel are kosher, and thus will not serve pizzas with meat toppings, while Domino's chains are not kosher, and serve a toppings selection similar to their Western branches

One pitfall with finding kosher food is that some con-men have found thay can make money but setting up business selling fake kushrut certificates Therefore someone look for kosher food should look of a certificate from the local rabbinat or a recognized kashrut agency 20 Certificates from from unknown organizations 21 should not be relied upon


Another series of strict restrictions come into force during the seven days of Passover, when leavened bread hametz — taken to include any grain product that may have come into contact with moisture and thus started fermenting — is banned Some Jews even widen the ban to cover rice and legumes The main substitute for the bread is matza, the famously dry and tasteless flatbread, and you can even get a matzoburger from McDonalds during Passover


Vegetarians/Vegans should have a relatively easy time eating in Israel Due to "kashrut" the rules of keeping kosher there are many restaurants that serve only dairy food, which makes them popular with vegetarians In some parts of the country you can also find Vegan restaurants Amirim is a vegetarian/vegan village in the Galilee with several restaurants

Ethnic food

Jews immigrating to Israel from different parts of the world brought with them many different cooking traditions Most of these are now served in a handful of specialty restaurants, so check the individual chapters and ask around Among the selection: Ashkenazi Eastern European Jewish, Bulgarian, Turkish, North African, Iraqi, Iranian, and many others One can also enjoy excellent local Arab cuisine served in areas with large Arab populations, mostly in the north of the country and in the vicinity of Jerusalem

One dish, however, is known across nearly the entire Jewish Diaspora Known in Europe as Cholent and in the Middle East and North Africa as Chamin, it is a sort of stew that has simmered for many hours over a low fire It is traditionally a Shabbat dish, originating from the prohibition on lighting fire and cooking on Shabbat The exact ingredients vary, but it usually contains meat usually beef or chicken, legumes chickpeas or beans andor rice, eggs, and vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and carrots Chamin is served in some restaurants on Saturday, and can be bought in delicatessens on Friday

Israelis appreciate good coffee and a café culture thrives in the country Although the Starbucks enterprise has not been so successful the enterprise's coffee standarts were much low compared to the local chains , there are several highly popular local coffee chains Many Israelis like to just spend time sipping their "hafuch" Cafe latté and chatting with friends You can also have light meal with sandwiches and salads Aroma is Israel's largest coffee chain You can order sandwiches there in three sizes and choose from three types of bread Arcaffé is slightly more expensive, but their coffee some say is even better Other chains include Elite Coffee, cafe cafe, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and the kosher dairy Cafe Hillel Many Israelis still like to drink "botz" mud coffee, also known as "cafe turki" or Turkish coffee which is an extra finely ground coffee that is cooked on a stove and is comparable to an espresso, but much stronger But you probably wouldn't order "botz" in a chic espresso bar, and those who are used to Starbucks-like coffee most likely won't find it palatable

Krembo A hybrid of the words KREM and BO, "Cream" and "In it", respectively is a favorite Israeli chocolate snack It is composed of a round cookie, on which cream Most often Vanilla-flavored, but there is also a mocha variety lies, covered with a chocolate shell Krembos come wrapped in aluminum foil, and are very delicate They are rarely found in the summer due to the weather Krembos have been eaten in Israel for two generations now, and there is a well known argument as to the right way for eating it 1 Holding the cookie while eating the chocolate and the cream, and then eating the cookie 2 Holding the chocolate while eating the cookie and then eating the chocolate and the cream 3 Eating all of it at once 4 While holding the cookie, eating the chocolate Then the cookie and "lastly" the cream

Drinking in Israel



There are three main brands of Israeli beer:

  • Goldstar — a Munich-style dark draught, it is the most popular Israeli beer in Israel Can be found in bottles and cans of 05 and 03 liters 1 pint and half a pint, respectively, or KHE-tsi and sh-LISH Hebrew for "half" and "third" Referring to the amount based on litres, as Israel uses SI It is also available from tap meh-HA kha-VIT, Hebrew for "from the barrel"
  • Maccabee — a pilsener, lighter and smoother than Goldstar Only comes in bottles and cans This beer has a bad reputation in Israel as being of foul taste and, as such, many bars do not serve it Be aware that the local variety of Maccabee tastes differently than the exported one
  • Nesher — comes in bottles, mostly malt

Palestinian beers are also available:

  • Taybeh 22 — from Taybeh village, close to Ramallah, a beer popular with many Palestinians, Israelis and tourists alike It is mainly found in Israeli Arab communities and the Old City of Jerusalem

In addition, a wide variety of international brands are available throughout Israel, some of which are locally brewed Among the most popular are Heineken, Carlsberg, and Tuborg


A common liqueur in Israel is Arak It is clear, and anise-flavored, quite similar to Pastis or the Colombian Aguardiente It is usually served in a glass of about 03 liters, mixed with equal amount of water and ice Some like to drink it mixed with grapefruit juice Arak is usually kept in the freezer A common brand is called Aluf Ha-Arak and Elit Ha-Arak both of the same distillery with the former of higher alcohol per volume and the latter of stronger anise flavor They are of slightly different volume although the price is accordingly different


There are several local big vineyards and a growing selection of boutique ones, some of them of high quality

Soft drinks

Most of the regular western sodas are available, and many have local variants that aren't very different in taste Pepsico and Coca-Cola Company fight for the soft drinks market aggressively Israeli Coca-Cola is thought by Cola connoisseurs to be tastier and more authentic than elsewhere This is due to the fact that Israeli Coca-Cola is made with sugar, and not with high-fructose corn syrup Tempo not to be confused with Tempo Industries, Ltd which is the brewer of most Israeli beer and bottler of most soft drinks including the local Pepsi and Super Drink are dirt-cheap local variants, at times sporting very weird tastes

The generic name for Coke or Pepsi is "Cola", and it usually implies Coke; if the place serves Pepsi, they will usually ask if it's fine

There are several more authentic soft drinks:

  • Tropit — cheap fruit flavor drink which is usually grape Comes in a tough aluminum-like bag with a straw The bag is poked using the straw to make a hole through which you drink A very portable drink until holed, which has become very popular in summer camps In the newer varieties there is a marked area where the straw should be inserted Even then it can sometimes take practice to insert the straw without the juice squirting out, if you are from the US it is just like the Israeli version of "Capri Sun"
  • Chocolate milk — there are a number of brands of sterilized chocolate milk SHO-ko which comes in plastic bags and small cartons The tip of the bag is bitten or clipped off, and the milk is sucked out As with Tropit, it is very portable although due to its milky nature, not as much until opened, after which it is impractical to reseal It should be noted that chocolate milk in a bag is usually served cold, and it would be a very bad idea to warm it
  • Spring Nectar — fruit juice that comes in cans Sold in most supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol stations, as well as many take-away stands Comes in a number of flavors such as peach, mango, and strawberry
  • Prigat — fruit juice that comes in plastic bottles Is sold at pretty much every supermarket, petrol station and corner-store around Israel Comes in many flavors including grape, orange, apple, tomato and a few more exotic options as well It is quite common to see Israelis sitting on the beach with bottles of Prigat juice they have just bought from the promenadeThese drinks are very tasty and delicous

Accommodation in Israel

Israel is host to a huge variety of accommodation options, from camping and hostels through to 5-star luxury hotels Accommodation in Israel is similar to Western standards in general both in terms of price and what you can expect as service Hotels in Israel do not currently possess star ratings, so beware that where these are seen, they are awarded by the hotels themselves A good way of finding good hotels in Israel is by looking through reviews on websites such as Tripadvisor, although the links below act as good starting points

  • The Israel Hotel Association IHA 23 is the umbrella organization for Israel's hotels and also represents them About 350 hotels, from Metulla in the North to Eilat in the South, are members of the IHA
  • Israel Youth Hostel Association 24 runs a thriving network of youth hostels
  • ILH - Israel Hostels 25 a network of 40 independent hostels, guesthouses and lodges designed for independent travelers
  • A large number of kibbutzim 26 now include bed and breakfast accommodation amongst their activities
  • A number of private residencies popular in northern communities offer a room to let commonly known as "zimmer", from the German word for room
  • Israel has a number of 3-4 star hotel chains

Working in Israel

One of the iconic activities in Israel is working "volunteering" on a collective farm: a kibbutz or a moshav 40

Another popular option is to volunteer for work on an archaeological excavation, mostly conducted in summer at a variety of locations Most Israeli excavations offer college/degree credit for international students 41

While working on a tourist visa is illegal, if you stay at any cheaper hotel in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, the staff may offer to put you in contact with opportunities to wash dishes or work in construction Pay is only around $5 an hour, and if caught, you can expect to be deported and blacklisted from the country for a period of no longer than one year

Cities in Israel

abu ghosh  ashdod  ashdod  ashqelon  azur  bat yam  beit jann  bene beraq  bet dagan  bet shemesh  bet yizhaq  deir hanna  dimona  elat  elyakhin  even yehuda  fassuta  fureidis  ganne tiqwa  gan yavne  gedera  haifa  hod hasharon  hurfeish  ibtin  iksal  jaljulye  jerusalem  jish  kabul  kafar kama  kafar manda  kafar qasem  kefar habad  kefar sava  kefar shemaryahu  kefar tavor  kefar weradim  kefar yona  lod  mazkeret batya  mizpe ramon  nahariyya  nahef  nehalim  nein  nesher  netanya  netivot  nordiyya  ofaqim  or yehuda  pardesiyya  qiryat atta  qiryat bialik  qiryat gat  qiryat motzkin  qiryat ono  qiryat ono  qiryat shemona  qiryat yam  ramat gan  ramat hasharon  ramat yishay  ramla  reine  rekhasim  rosh pinna  rumat heib  sajur  sakhnin  sallama  savyon  sederot  sheikh dannun  shelomi  sulam  tamra  tayibe  tel aviv-yafo  tel mond  tiberias  timrat  tirat karmel  yavne  yeroham  

What do you think about Israel?

How expensive is Israel?
(1 ILS = 0 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant55.45 ILS
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)221.4 ILS
McDonalds meal49.91 ILS
Local beer (0.5 draft)28.65 ILS
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 24.5 ILS
Cappuccino14.06 ILS
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)9.26 ILS
Water (0.33 bottle)6.29 ILS
Milk (1l)6.73 ILS
Fresh bread (500g)6.56 ILS
White Rice (1kg)8.03 ILS
Eggs (12) 14.15 ILS
Local Cheese (1kg) 50.4 ILS
Chicken Breast (1kg) 28.12 ILS
Apples (1kg) 9.78 ILS
Oranges (1kg) 6.22 ILS
Tomato (1kg) 5.62 ILS
Potato (1kg) 4.96 ILS
Lettuce (1 head) 5.54 ILS
Water (1.5l)4.4 ILS
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 44.32 ILS
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)9.07 ILS
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 13.94 ILS
Cigarettes34.13 ILS
One way local bus ticket7.6 ILS
Monthly pass for bus236.16 ILS
Taxi start12.47 ILS
Taxi 1km5.53 ILS
Taxi 1hour waiting85.54 ILS
Gasoline (1 liter) 8.2 ILS
Utilities for a "normal" apartment708.96 ILS
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 55.45 ILS, your travel companion

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