Yom Kippur, which falls 10 days after the Jewish New Year, is the Day of Atonement. It is the holiest and most important day in Judaism. In Israel, Yom Kippur is observed in full: no cars, no shops, and no electricity. It will be the only country in the world where you will see everyone wearing white on a single day you can enjoy urban peace; walk on the boardwalk and hear the waves with no sounds of cars or honks. It is a truly exceptional experience, even if you are not eating and not using any electricity. Ever wanted to ride your bike on the freeway? This is the perfect day to take a stroll on the empty roads with some friends, there won’t be any traffic.
If you find yourself on one of Israel’s beaches, you will probably hear loud noises of something being hit back and forth. Don’t be scared, it’s the noise of a ping pong-sized rubber ball being volleyed between two wooden paddles. Matkot, Israel’s unofficial national sport, is played on the beaches for competition or for fun, all year round. The goal of the game is to hit a rubber ball with a paddle back and forth, as many times as possible without dropping it. If you’re ever around a beach, go to the closest store and buy a game of matkot, bring along a partner or simply find one on the shore and try something new!
Starbucks is known to be the biggest coffee chain; you can probably be anywhere in the world and find one there. But an exception to this is Israel, which has its own famous coffee company, Aroma Espresso Bar. Whether you’re meeting someone or on your way to work, you most probably need a cup of coffee. Aroma is situated on almost every other street in Israel and the lines move surprisingly quickly. Apart from the coffee, Aroma serves pastries, sandwiches, salads as well as its famous iced coffee with a small piece of chocolate. If you’re on the run, look for the nearest Aroma and grab a quick coffee and enjoy Israeli lunch, breakfast, or better yet, brunch for reasonable prices.
When scheduling an appointment with Israelis, make sure to always schedule it at least an hour before you plan on meeting with him or her. Israelis will most likely be late, but you should not even find it disrespectful nor surprising. This is the natural way of life in Israel, especially when scheduling with a technician or house visit. Don’t be confused when they tell you that they will come between the hours of 10am to 5pm, so you might find yourself spending the whole day at home for a no-show. Here is a little tip: always call the day before or the day of the appointment, make sure to remind the technician and don’t be scared to be assertive!
Cofix stands for coffee and fix, meaning a fixed-price coffee. However, Cofix includes three divisions: coffee shop, bar, and supermarket, all with products at a fixed price of five shekel ($1.40). The chain includes at least 75 shops all around Israel and they are all kosher, which enables anyone in Israel to consume there. The coffee shop includes a variety of beverages and snacks that you can take on the go. The bar on the other hand is probably the only bar where you can get shots and cocktails for five shekels, basically drinking more for less! The Super Cofix grocery store recently opened in a couple of places and enables customers to purchase products in large quantities for a small sum of money.
In Israel, it is significant to honor the Sabbath, which starts 18 minutes before the sunset on each Friday. Israelis who work on Friday close their shops an hour before the start of the Sabbath until the nightfall of the following Saturday. You can enjoy this one day of the week and hear the quiet streets of Israel with barely any transportation working. During these 25 hours families gather to eat, sing, and pray. Saturdays are similar to Sundays in Europe; everything closes and people rest and take a day off work. However, Israel is very open to freedom of religion and supports anyone who does not follow the Sabbath, which is why some restaurants decide to stay opened. As soon as the Sabbath ends, most shops and restaurants open and get the city moving again.
Masada is known to be one of the most frequently toured places in Israel. It is situated on the top of a mountain, which overlooks the Dead Sea. Most tourists visit the site before the sunset in order to see the beautiful view over the Jordanian mountains. It takes around 45 minutes to climb Masada and once you arrive at the top you will discover the remains of Herod’s fortress. Herod was a king of Israel and built his fortress on top of the mountain in order to protect himself. Today, Masada symbolizes the struggle of humans for freedom from suffering and is of historical significance to the people of Israel.