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Israel

Israel

Languages in Israel

Hebrew, the language of the Bible, and Arabic are the official languages of the State of Israel. Hebrew (and Arabic too) is written from right to left.

It was less than a century and a half ago that Hebrew was still considered a language solely for prayer and completely obsolete on a day-to-day basis. The restoration of Hebrew was a vastly significant factor in the success of the Zionist dream. Updating a “dead” language was a task led virtually in its entirety by one man, Russian-born Eliezer ben Yehuda, and it is a story of extraordinary vision and drama. His biography, Tongue of the Prophets, by Robert St. John, is utterly fascinating and a perfect read for visitors to Israel.

All Israeli school children learn Hebrew, Arabic and English, and good English is spoken by virtually everyone in the country. Israel, a country peopled by many who have come from some 120 countries, is a multi-lingual country, with vast numbers of Israelis also speaking Russian, French, Spanish, Yiddish and tens of other tongues.

Almost every highway and street sign is in English as well as Hebrew (and Arabic), and English language newspapers, magazine and books are available everywhere.

Business Tourism

Israel is a modern country with a vibrant, diverse business community. Israel is a thoroughly westernized country and excels in every variety of business and industry. Most Israelis in the business arena speak fluent English, and business services are sophisticated, accessible and completely comfortable for the business traveler.

Innovative export industries are the engine of the Israeli economy and even very small Israeli firms operate on a global scale. Many large exhibitions are held in Israel featuring locally and internationally developed technologies in communications, computing, defense, medicine, farming and more. With so many foreign business visitors, the tourism industry is adept at meeting international needs.

Israel is one of the very few countries in the world where huge overseas investments in Israeli companies are matched by no less significant Israeli investments all over the world. The country is no longer just a recipient of business tourism based on its booming technology industries – it is the starting point for business ventures of all kinds all over the world.  The variety of business – from multinational corporations that have R&D production facilities in Israel to Israeli firms active in real estate -- ensure that professional and business services are at the top international level.
 
Business services include hotels tailored for business visitors, event halls, elaborate convention centers of all sizes, exhibition halls, advanced multimedia equipment and capabilities, the finest in communication equipment and advanced transportation.

Arts in Israel

The Visual Arts

The art scene in Israel had its beginnings in the early part of the 20th century when the rebirth of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel was beginning to take shape.
 
Israel's leading school of the visual arts – Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and  Design - was established in 1906 by sculptor Boris Schatz. Named for Bezalel Ben Uri - the first artist mentioned in the Bible - its establishment is considered the first major milestone in the development of art in modern Israel.  
 
The first works of art to emerge from Bezalel were of a traditional Jewish and Biblical nature. Gradually, however, a modern secular ideology emerged and art disassociated from religious, Diaspora-oriented traditions began to develop. This movement, known as the “Rebels of Bezalel”, sought to pay homage to the Middle East and the “New Jew” by depicting the landscape and local people of the country, and its members sought to express their newfound identity as “Hebrew” rather than “Jewish” artists. This movement was established by Avraham Melnikov Yosef Zaritzky, and Reuven Rubin, and is considered to have had a major influence upon many aspects of Israeli life to this day.
 
Bezalel underwent numerous changes until it became the leading academy for art and design and moved to its present Jerusalem location on the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University.
 
Throughout the school's existence Bezalel graduates have taught young artists who have pursued many new directions and broadened the landscape of local creativity to encompass other institutions, museums, and galleries both in Israel and abroad. 

Israel art is displayed in museums and galleries throughout the country. Indeed, there are more museums per capita in Israel than in any country on earth. 

Food & wine in Israel

Like the United States, Israel is an ethnic melting pot of cultures, religions and immigrants. As a result, the food scene in Israel is extraordinarily diverse and also of a very high standard. 80% of Israelis are Jews of whom more than half were born in Israel. But most of their parents, grandparents or great grandparents came to Israel from more than 120 countries, bringing with them foods, recipes and food traditions from six continents. And the 20% of non-Jewish Israelis have their own food traditions too. Israel is also a part of the Western world, and very little happens in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Paris that doesn’t find its way to Israel within a few weeks. Put all this together and you have the ingredients for one of the most dynamic, fascinating – and delicious – food scenes in the world.
 
If you’d ask an Israeli 25 or 30 years ago what is the country’s typical fare, chances are the answer would be felafel, humus, tehina, with a side order of couscous or gefilte fish. A lot has happened in 25 or 30 years. All these dishes still exist, of course, indeed the first four are ubiquitous. But Israel has it all now, from hamburgers (Israel’s first McDonald’s opened in the 90’s) to pizza to sushi (more sushi restaurants per capita in Tel Aviv than in any city on earth, including Tokyo), to the cuisines of India and China, to some of the finest influences of Paris, Brussels, Lyon, Barcelona and New York – the Israel food scene is utterly sophisticated and in step with the latest trends. Many of Israel’s leading chefs have studied, prepped, apprenticed at some of the finest restaurants in the world.
 
But there’s more. There are restaurants in Israel that serve cuisines that exist nowhere else on earth: particularly the cuisines from areas now devoid of Jews, where large Jewish populations created their own eclectic cuisines, such as in Salonika, Dubrovnik, Tripolitania, Mesopotamia, Persia, Yemen and Bukhara.
 
There are two elements that make food in Israel so unique. One is our location on the shores of the Mediterranean. Like Turkey, Greece, Italy, France and Spain, our cuisine reflects the warm sun, the olives that grow on our trees, the olive-oil we press, and the breads, fish and meats that have made the Mediterranean the source of what is considered by many as the world’s healthiest diet and, quite simply, the source of the best things to eat. Secondly, Israel produces the most splendid quality of fruits, vegetables and dairy products. From the legendary Jaffa oranges first exported to Europe in the 1930’s, to the kiwis, star fruit, citrus, tomatoes, peppers, flowers, yoghurts and cheeses we export today.

Health Care in Israel

Health Regulations

No vaccinations are required for visitors to Israel.
 
Israel is an entirely western country with an advanced level of health care, diagnosis and medicine that is the envy of much of the world and on a par with the best of North America and Western Europe. Almost everyone in the health care field – from pharmacists to physicians to nurses – understands and speaks good English.
 
As for all international travel, visitors to Israel should have travel insurance that covers them in case of illness or hospitalization. Pharmacies in Israel are to be found everywhere and are very well stocked with drug store items and all the over-the-counter medicines you may need.
 
Should you become ill during your trip, your hotel front desk can arrange for a doctor to visit you in your room, and prescribe medication if necessary. If you are staying with friends or family, they will be able to refer you to their local clinic. In case of serious illness or injury, the emergency rooms at Israel’s hospitals are western standard and you will receive the finest medical care.

Traveling With Animals

There are limitations to bringing certain animals into Israel, but traveling with a personal pet such as a healthy dog or cat is extremely easy (animals must be at least three months of age).
 
If you plan to bring dog or cat to Israel you’ll need to convey the following information to the Office of Veterinary Services at least 48 hours before arriving in Israel (fax:  011-972-3-968-8963): Owner’s name, type of animal, age of animal, flight number and estimated time of arrival. You will need to travel with the following documents:
 

  • a government-issued veterinary health certificate dated issued less than seven days prior to the animal’s departure testifying that it was examined and has no infectious diseases
  • the owners’ written declaration that the animal was in their possession for at least 90 days before arriving in Israel, and
  • certification that the animal was vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days but no more than one year prior to its departure for Israel.

If you plan to bring any other kind of animal to Israel, call 1-888-77-ISRAEL for details.

Markets & Shopping

Israel has economic ties with almost all nations in the world and manufactures a wide variety of products. There are countless opportunities for shopping in Israel in the shopping centers that have sprung up in the past few decades - including the Malkha Mall, the largest in the Middle East - as well as in the colorful markets, annual bazaars, street malls, and shops in the large cities - all of which offer attractive imported and locally-made items.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv has entire streets with shops devoted to one particular item: spices, bridal gowns, clothing, fabrics, furniture, original gift items, fashion accessories, and galleries. In addition to these special streets such as Dizengoff, Shenkin, Herzl, Nakhlat Binyamin, and Levinsky, there are bi-weekly art fairs on Nakhlat Binyamin in the city center, bazaars with designer clothes and crafts in the exhibition grounds and around the port area, and an annual food fair called “Ta’am ha-Ir" (Taste of the City) where one can sample a variety of foods that are available in restaurants throughout the country. 

Jerusalem

The Old City is the focus of attraction in Jerusalem with its Oriental and local atmosphere, where one can purchase artifacts, ornaments made of wood, seashells, leather and straw, blown glass, and traditional clothing. The annual art fair, “Khutsot ha-Yotzer” offers both prestigious works of art and folk crafts created by Israeli artists. There are farmers’ markets in the German Colony and in the moshavim surrounding the city. The historical, renovated city center is filled with coffee shops and stores that sell gifts and souvenirs.

Haifa

Haifa has large, new shopping centers, of which the largest and most unique is “Kastra”, which has the largest mural in the world. Ben Gurion Boulevard, a renovated street below the Bahai Gardens, has stores with Templer style merchandise. The “City Center” mall is located in the heart of the German Colony. 

Rural Cottage Industries

Members of moshavim and kibbutzim have recently opened numerous small businesses throughout the country. Signs along the roads advertise these cottage industries, and they are worth investigating. Many offer home-made foods, dairy products and cheeses, arts and crafts, and other unusual items that are not sold in the cities.

Eilat

Eilat, the tourist and vacation city located at the southernmost point in Israel, not only offers tourist items and souvenirs, but imported electrical appliances and clothing as well.
Purchases in Eilat are significantly less expensive since they are exempt from VAT. There are also tax-free shops in Ben Gurion Airport and at the border crossing point at Taba.
Businesses that operate under government supervision and listed with the Ministry of Tourism display the Ministry of Tourism logo and offer a variety of items such as jewelry and diamonds, carpets, women’s fashions, leather goods, artwork, ceramics, and embroidery. 

Rural Tourism

There is a saying that in order to really get to know a country, you have to live among its inhabitants, learn their customs, chat with the locals and learn how they live. Perhaps this is the reason behind Israel’s flourishing rural tourism and its increasing popularity among tourists.

Throughout Israel, from north to south, in kibbutzim and moshava farming communities, in towns, villages, community settlements and every beautiful corner of the country, pampering guest rooms with all the accessories have been built to offer you a rustic vacation, far from the noisy cities and close to nature, an arms length from Israel’s primal landscapes and wonders. There is a saying that in order to really get to know a country, you have to live among its inhabitants, learn their customs, chat with the locals and learn how they live. Perhaps this is the reason behind Israel’s flourishing rural tourism and its increasing popularity among tourists.

The rural experience will provide you with an opportunity to see the far-flung communities and meet their residents, most of whom are farmers who welcome you and offer you charming vacation rooms and suites, right next to their fields and in their orchards. These accommodations are also located near many historical sites and attractions, so that you can quickly and easily reach every part of the country, while at the same time learning about the different types of communities and various life styles.

Rural tourism has developed considerably in recent decades and now offers a warm alternative that includes accommodations in a rustic atmosphere in the heart of nature, with delicious meals from the best of the local produce. 

There is a wide range of guest rooms, family vacation units or pampering wooden cabins with breathtaking views of the landscape, either scattered among the green fields of kibbutzim or perched on mountaintops and hillsides, in the heart of orchards and pine groves, along the beach or beside rivers. Some cabins come with wonderful surprises, such as double Jacuzzis and scented candles for a romantic atmosphere, while others offer agricultural activities, such as harvesting fruit in season, a visit to the cowshed or sheepfold, horseback riding, a ride in a wagon drawn by a tractor, visits to fruit and vegetable packing plants and olive oil or wine presses. There are also swimming pools, playground equipment for children and hammocks, for relaxing with a view of the horizon. All you have to do is give yourself up to the quiet pastoral surroundings and sink into never-ending tranquility.

 

Information Courtesy Of Tourism in Israel 

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