• Lebanon!

    Lebanon: House in Byblos. Go Now!

    Lebanon
    This country is home to a wide range of people from conservative Muslims and Christians to liberals who embrace the changing world. Explore Lebanon!

  • Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    Bangladesh
    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    Indonesia
    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    Mongolia
    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Culture & Identity of Israel

WARNING: Terrorist threats continue in Israel, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction

The way of life in Israel has no true standard as the people are quite diverse in nearly every sense of the word. For many of the people religion is important and drives the weekly routine, but there are numerous people who are only religious in name. In fact it is religion that divides the people in most ways, but in the sense of schedule religion does little to alter life from one religion to the next in the country. The differences in way of life come more in the form of culture.

Most of the people living in Israel are either Jewish or Muslim, both of which share Friday as their holy day. Due to this, the weekend in Israel is Friday and Saturday. The Christian minority celebrates Sundays as the holy day, but the majority creates the weekend. In terms of food and diet, the Jews and Muslims again share some similarities, such as abstinence from pork, but the Jews and Christians drink alcohol.

For many devout Muslims the day is also centered around the five daily prayers, although only a minority of people in the country partake in these five prayers. All the people, Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike seem to find most jobs in the services industries, particularly in cities, where working hours are more consistent. Most people in these positions work about eight hours a day.

It's in the free time of the people that the daily way of life differs the most significantly from religious group to group. The Christians and Jews tend to be more liberal and much of life is focused on friends as going out to bars and restaurants is a common activity on evenings and weekends. For many young, single Muslims the bar scene is often bypassed for a cafe, but again many young people have an active social life.

For all the people family, religion, and community seem to be important. However, the differences of these same things also tend to separate the people. None-the-less, for most people in Israel life is focused on family and the well-being of their family.

Despite the many differences and similarities mentioned above, there are many people with vastly different lives, especially those in the Palestinian Territories. For many of these people life in a somewhat temporary housing unit or town is the norm as steady jobs and incomes are difficult to come by.

Identity

The people of Israel can't seem to agree on a unifying means to identify. Most of the Jews identify with both the nationality and religion: "Israeli," which is a name closely associated with being a Jewish citizen of Israel. The people that identify in this way tend to be Jewish and see the two as the same; these people also tend to identify as being Jewish. The Muslim population tends to disagree on both the name "Israel" as well as its meaning as they will rarely identify as being "Israeli." The Muslim population tends to identify as "Palestinian," which, like "Israeli" is closely tied to a religion and being "Palestinian" infers one is also Muslim, but the Palestinians also tend to be ethnic Arabs.

Among the other minority groups, both religion and ethnicity play a role in identity. Armenians tend to identify as such, which infers both an ethnic and a religious (Orthodox Christian) affiliation, while other Christians tend to identify as "Christian" or by their ethnicity, which in many cases are the Phoenicians (Christian Lebanese). So, although there is no unifying identity, the people generally identify based on religion and to a lesser degree ethnicity above all else.

This page was last updated: March, 2016