Israel is in many ways a unique country, filled with idiosyncrasies that you learn to love whilst living there. For many, leaving the Holy Land can be a difficult experience; from the warmth of the people to the gorgeous sunsets, here are some of the things you may miss the most.
Hummus is eaten in Israel in alarming quantities, and if you’ve ever tasted it you can understand why. Not only is it delicious, it can also be eaten at literally any time of the day, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between. Departing Israel inevitably leads to disappointment with future hummus encounters, and leaves you dreaming of that perfect mix of creaminess, lemon and garlic.
The flexibility of being ‘on time’
If being late was a national sport, Israel would be Olympic champions. Whether it’s for Shabbat dinner at your grandma’s or meeting friends by the beach, ‘I’ll be there at 8’, normally translates to ‘I’ll be there between 8 and 9.30’. Unfortunately, the ambiguity of the concept of punctuality in Israel does not exist in other countries. Life can be much more stressful as a result.
Beaches have a sacred quality to them in Israel: they offer a vital respite from the hecticness and chaos of life in this tiny slither of land. They are social hubs where people of all ages meet for an escape; a laugh with their friends; a game of matkot (Israeli beach paddleball) followed by a beer or maybe three and a smoke-up under the glorious sunset. Leaving the golden sands of Israel will always be tough!
The coffee shops
Quaint open-air coffee shops are a defining feature of Tel Aviv’s landscape, littering the city’s street corners and boulevards. Whether it’s morning or night, these are great spots to take a break and watch the world go by while enjoying an afuch, the Israeli cappuccino.
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Native born Israelis are called ‘Sabres’, after a ‘cactus pear’ that is prickly on the outside but deliciously sweet on the inside. Often, this is the perfect metaphor to describe the mentality and personality of Israelis. Hot headed, opinionated and straight-talking in equal measure, they are also some of the warmest, most altruistic people in the world.
Israeli weddings are wild. Arguably the wildest you’ll ever experience. It is not uncommon for the celebrations to descend into full on raves, with unlimited alcohol, techno music and dancing grandmas. Oh, and you can also get away with wearing shorts and sandals.
Whether in the background of the idyllic sea and palm trees of Tel Aviv, or hovering over the ancient, stone walls of Jerusalem, Israeli sunsets can be jaw-droppingly beautiful and are bound to be missed when leaving the country.
Late night opening
Want a sit down meal at 11pm? No problem – many restaurants and coffee shops in Tel Aviv are open until midnight and some, such as The Brasserie or Benedict, are open all night. On your average week night, most bars and clubs will be open well past 2am.
24 hours a week of quiet
Ever wished the city you live in would took a little break from the hustle and bustle of day to day life? In Israel, every Friday as the sun goes down, Shabbat begins and the whole country takes a break. The roads are quieter, the air is calmer, and the smell of thousands of Israeli grandmothers cooking Shabbat dinner slowly wafts into the streets.
Packed with delicious and diverse food stalls and the freshest, most colourful produce and spices you’ll see, Israeli shuks are a foodie’s dream. Not only that, night time in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda shuk sees the food vendors close up and the bars open, as it transforms into a lively maze of hipster-filled drinking spots, cool graffiti and great music. Good luck trying to find a cooler spot than this abroad.
The tachles mentality
Tachles is one of the many Yiddish words that has found its way into everyday Hebrew discourse, and is probably the best word to sum up the Israeli mentality. Roughly translated, it means ‘bottom line’ or ‘actual details’: Israelis get straight to the point and don’t faff around with niceties or insinuations, a trait that will be missed when abroad.