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Impact Fellowship Blog

Israeli Culture-Hannah Stone

Israel is the Jewish State. 75% of the country is Jewish. Israeli schools operate Sunday through Thursday, not Monday through Friday, because Jewish holidays like Shabbat are national holidays. Hebrew is the most widely spoken language in the Holy Land. One is never far from a Synagogue or a Kosher restaurant. But what separates Israeli Culture from Jewish Culture in the Diaspora is how Jewish culture meshes with the other cultures in the region. The other day, we visited Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv. There, we ate Ashkenazi babka, Mizrachi kubbeh, Yemeni jachnun, Sephardic burekas, Druze pita, and Arab kebab. Being in Israel has taught me so much about these other cultures and I now understand that the combination of them is what makes Israel so incredible.

We recently visited a Bedouin home and learned about their traditions and history. I loved watching them make coffee because it’s a very ceremonial process. After roasting the coffee beans, they grind the beans by hand to a rhythm, making coffee music. Different rhythms mean different things. Our host played coffee music with a rhythm meant for guests. A month ago, we ate dinner at a Druze home. While I saw familiar foods like hummus and pita, there were lots of new and delicious foods too. Our host taught us about the core Druze beliefs, such as reincarnation and Monotheism.

Not only have I learned about different cultures in Israel, but I have also learned that Jewish culture is much different in Israel than it is in the US. While Reform and Conservative Jews are very common in the US, most people in Israel are either Orthodox or Secular. We have spent Shabbat in many different places, and it’s interesting to see how Shabbat in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem varies from Shabbat back home. At home, I usually just light candles, drink grape juice, eat challah, and continue working. Even in Tel Aviv, which is mostly secular, Shabbat has a much different feeling than the rest of the week. I can’t wait to experience Hanukkah in a few weeks because I have heard that it is celebrated much differently in Israel than it is in the US.

Hannah Stone