Local traditions and culture in Israel

  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd
  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd
  • Local Customs
    by machomikemd

Most Viewed Local Customs in Israel

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    Wear a costume for the Purim Festival!

    by iblatt Written Feb 23, 2013

    The Purim holiday is celebrated each year during the Hebrew month of Adar, which falls in the month of February or March. It is basically a religious Jewish holiday, celebrating the miraculous salvation of the Jewish community in ancient Shushan, the Persian capital during the reign of Ahasuerus. Over the centuries it has developed into the merriest Jewish holiday, a real festival with lots of drinking and having fun.

    One of the best Purim traditions is dressing up in a variety of costumes and going to costume parties. There are street festivals with costumes, music and drinks (see my Tel-Aviv local custom tip), private parties, and even in offices and banks employees wear a token funny hat, funny make up or other accessories for the holiday. For children, of course, this is a major event and an opportunity to realized their dreams for one day, become queens, princes, sailors, policemen, Batman etc.

    On the streets of Tel-Aviv you can admire the creativity and humor of the costumes, some people even dress up their little babies or their dogs!

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    The "Mikve" Party

    by Martin_S. Written Nov 6, 2012

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    The Mikve is actually a Jewish ritual bath. Used by both men and women it is traditionally done by the woman the day before her wedding. You could usually find a ritual bath of this sort in many homes of the rich and in special places devoted to the ritual bathing. For instance here in our town of Arad we have two of these, one for the Ashkanazik and one for the Spheradic jewish communities.
    You can read more about it here:
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0014_0_13881.html

    Since our daughter marryed Itzik whose family is not religous, but are rather thought of as observers of tradition, Tal decided to observe the Ritual Mikve. Cannot share with you in photos the interior of the Mikve where she went, accompanied by the women of our family and friends, but the party afterwards in our front yard was fun.

    As you can see in the photos, we were lucky enough to enjoy the company of family and friends from around the world, all come to help us in one of the most fantastic days in our lives. Thanks to PJ and Swanet, Jasminka and Anthony, Miki, Branka, Moki, Maki, Polona, and Christian, and of course our Israeli friends and family, it was a wonderful day.

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    Henna Party, decorations

    by Martin_S. Written Sep 12, 2012

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    Well what is a party without a reception also, so the first photo shows Tal and I greeting her guests.
    The second photo shows the bowl of Henna, the paste that is used in the ceremony, it is decorated with the "draje", colorful almond candies in a hard sweet covering.
    The third photo shows the simple table setting, we decided to keep it simple and "concentrate" on the party, food and music.
    The fourth photo shows a new fangled thing a "sweet bar", literally a bar filled to overflowing with all sorts of candies, sweets and things, this was very popular ^O^
    The last photo shows the more traditional table covered with baskets of baked moroccan cakes and things. That big orangeish "bowl" you see on the upper left is actually made out of compressed sesame seeds and can be eaten.

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    Henna Party, traditional costumes

    by Martin_S. Written Sep 11, 2012

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    Of course during the Henna Party, like in most cases where old traditions are honored, the guests of honor, in this case Tal and Itzik, dress in traditional Moroccan costumes. But here we arranged for many of the guests to have costumes available.
    Shown in the first photo is one of the "true" Moroccans at the party, Aunt Lulu wore her dress from Morocco and as you can see she has her act well balanced.
    The rest of us dressed up in the traditional Moroccan attire, adults, as well as the kids.

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    Henna Party the "Baskets"

    by Martin_S. Written Sep 3, 2012

    One of the main occurances during the Henna is the giving of the gifts. Today these are arranged in baskets that traditionally were decorated with gold chains and trinkets. The baskets are given to both the bride and groom. The bride receives from the grooms family and the groom from the brides family.
    The baskets themselves, which can range from 1-5, usually, are arranged according to use, one may contain bathroom items, such as perfumes, shampoos, special soaps and such.
    Another may have personal items, pajamas, socks, shorts, t-shrits, training suit, etc.
    Yet a third will have household items such as towels and sheets.
    Last, but by no way least is the gold basket where they receive gold chains, necklaces, bracelets, earrings or watches.
    This is a way to help the new couple get started in their new home.
    Shown here are some of the baskets that Tal and Itzik received.

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    Henna Party, the costumes, red/white/blue

    by Martin_S. Written Aug 28, 2012

    No, the Red, White and Blue is not for the American Flag, but they represent different beliefs that colors bring health, luck and happiness.
    The truth is that during the Henna party, leading up to our daughter Tal's wedding to Itzik we were all healthy, I am lucky to have such a wonderful daughter and son in law, and there was enough happiness to share with all our friends.
    Some of the comments about Tal in her various dresses were that she looked like a queen, a barbie doll or victorian.
    Whatever she is still my princess.

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    Henna Party 31-7-2012, the Henna

    by Martin_S. Written Aug 27, 2012

    One of the parts of the Henna celebration is the giving of gifts from the parents of the bride and groom.
    As you can see here the gifts of gold, jewelery, watches and such are displayed and then actually placed on the bride and groom by the parents.

    After the giving of the gifts begins the actual application of the Henna paste itself. In some instances the henna paste is used to make designs on the skin, similar to tattoos (but they wear off after a few days), but in most wedding ceremonies it is only applied in a small dollop to the palm of each hand.

    Once the henna is applied you can see that Tal and Itzik have a small "plate" tied with a ribbon to cover the henna. This for two reasons, first of all it helps keep the henna on the hand, secondly it is often later removed and used by family to wrap gifts since it is believed that it retains some of the luck of the couple.

    Of course as you can see, everyone is dressed in traditional Moroccan costumes.

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    Henna Party VTers come to "help" us celebrate

    by Martin_S. Written Aug 27, 2012

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    On August 2, 2012, our daughter Tal got married to her now husband Itzik. Itzik if from a Moroccan/Iraqi family and part of their traditions call for a Henna Party before the wedding, so we prepared for the celebrations on July 31, 2012.
    I will be showing/sharing all aspects, from the customary decorations, the dancing, the costumes, the gifts and most of all the henna itself. The photos are from the professional photographer.
    To read and learn more about this custom, you can take a look at the following internet sites:
    http://www.israeliartculture.com/israeli-culture-2/jewish-henna-ceremonies-israel.php
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henna

    The first photo shows Tal in her RED Henna costume, OUR reason for creating and inviting our friends to join us.

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    Sunsets over Jerusalem and Sinai

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 21, 2010

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    I was lucky to fill up my collection of beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the great places all over the world. This time it was a very picturesque sunset over Old City of Jerusalem which I admired from the Mount of Olive.
    You can watch my 6 min 56 sec HD Video Sunset over Jerusalem out of my Youtube channel.

    I watched another magnificent sunset while I was strolling the Marina and Lagoons in Eilat. The sun was falling over the Eilat’s Mountains making the area wonderful.
    You can watch my 3 min 01 sec HD Video Eilat Beaches and Promenades in the evening out of my Youtube channel.

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    Singing and dancing in Israel

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 20, 2010

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    What can tell more about local customs than local people singing and dancing?
    I enjoyed Jewish singing and dancing in Jewish Quarter in Jewish Passover in Jerusalem.
    You can watch my 3 min 25 sec HD Video Jerusalem Singing and dancing in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
    I also enjoyed Jewish children singing on Jaffa Square:
    4 min 39 sec HD Video Jerusalem Jaffa Square Children singing out of my Youtube channel.
    I enjoyed people dancing (most of them were tourists, I think) in Mamilla:
    3 min 16 sec HD Video Jerusalem People street dancing in Mamilla
    And finally - street dancing in Eilat:
    2 min 27 sec HD Video Eilat Beaches and Promenades part 5 out of my Youtube channel.

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    Holocaust Remembrance Day

    by iblatt Updated Apr 11, 2010

    Once a year, on the 27th of the Hebrew month Nissan, a week after the end of Passover, Israel observes a day of remembrance for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

    On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies are held all over the country. Holocaust survivors tell their chilling, hair-raising stories, and light torches in memory of those who perished. This is intermixed with readings and musical interludes.

    Bars, cafes and entertainment places are closed, but otherwise this is a working day, people go to work, shops are open and public transportation runs as usual. On the morning of Holocaust Remembrance Day a siren is heard all over Israel for 2 minutes, and the whole country stops its activity, stands still and remembers.

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    Folk Dancing: Join in the Circle!

    by iblatt Written Oct 1, 2009

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    Israeli folk dancing is a very popular activity in Israel. In many towns and cities, during the summer months, you can watch (and participate in) folk dancing in the town square or on the promenade in the warm evenings.

    You can see the young and the old (but mainly middle aged...) go through the dance movements, some are graceful and some are awkward, everything goes...

    Some people come for the fun, some for the exercise, some to show off their dancing ability and some lonely hearts to look for others. A caller, or DJ, runs the show. Most dances are performed in circles, some in rows.
    It's fun, it's an authentic Israeli experience, and it's free!!

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    Ossuaries

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 18, 2009

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    As we approached Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives, we wandered by this necropolis containing several ossuaries. FYI: Ossuaries are "chests, buildings, wells or sites made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains*"

    I found it interesting to learn that a Jerusalem necropolis is made up of tombs placed in important areas surrounding the city wall. These tombs extend out in all four directions forming a ring and are situated outside the town limits, ideally located near quarries.

    I read that this particular necropolis is an example of a 'hewn' tomb. There have been about 1000 tombs such as this discovered in the last 150 years around the Holy City**.

    As you can see from my picture, a contemporary exterior protects this ancient burial site (pic #2).

    *wikipedia
    **See 'Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period' by Rachel Hachlili

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    The Golden Menorah

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 4, 2009

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    A golden menorah, weighing a half ton and containing 95 pounds of pure gold. It was crafted by a group using exact descriptions of the original menorah once standing in the Jewish Temple on Mt. Moriah, also known as, the Temple Mount.

    The menorah's home was originally at the Cardo, but was relocated to its new site near the staircase on the Western Wall plaza. It represents the dream of the Jewish people, which is to have a temple once again.

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    Have a Falafel

    by VeronicaG Updated Jul 6, 2009

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    Never having tasted a falafel, I was anxious to try this typical food item, which consists of an oversize pita, chickpeas or fava beans and lettuce. Finding it tasty, I ordered it a few more times during our travel through Israel.

    I sampled my first falafel in the Jewish Quarter at a small stand, costing me $6 including beverage. The chickpeas were rolled to form a small ball, then fried to create a crunchy filling for the pita.

    This was a quick vegetarian meal and conformed with the kosher rule*. A falafel is considered a fast food in Israel.

    FYI: *Dietary rules say pork, shellfish are forbidden. The serving of milk and milk products cannot be eaten with meat. Thanks, unaS, for explaining this better that I did originally!

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