Daily Life in Israel (Silver Skies Research)
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN ISRAEL?
I’m perhaps not qualified to answer this because it’s been a decade since I last lived in Israel. But here is how my life was in Tel Aviv 2004-5.
The first time I reached Israel, we drove from Ben Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv 6 am in the morning. We were groggy and tired, and we looked out trying to catch the site of a ruin from all the past wars and skirmishes. We summarily failed at that; instead it felt like we were in Europe. In the breaking light of the morning, we saw broad, swanky freeways, manicured gardens, avenues lined with decorative palms, glassy skyscrapers – there was an order to everything. Yet the place exuded an unmistakable old world charm.
When we reached the hotel, one of my colleagues meekly asked the manager Alfonso, who was an Italian (Jew?) with ostensibly some links to Milan, how safe Tel Aviv was. “It is the safest place in the world! I feel safer here than in Milan”, he thundered. I didn’t need that reassurance though, after a first glimpse of Tel Aviv.
Getting out of bed
Israel is the natural timezone for me, because I always run about two-and-a-half hours late in India. Waking up early was therefore a tad easier, although I still felt drowsy at times.
A quick shower would be followed by Israeli breakfast buffets – breads, bagels, blintzes, other egg preparations, salads and sprouts, and fruit juices were the mainstay. And ten years ago I didn’t keep a count of the number of mini pastries I stuffed my mouth with. The Jews know their way with breads and pastries alright.
We would work Sundays through Thursdays and the weekend would be Friday and Saturday. I worked in the software / high-tech industry – work started at 9 am and usually everyone was there well before that. Most people left by 6.30 pm. It was normal for strangers at workplace to greet, especially in the mornings (Boker tov!), in the lift and corridors. I loved the grapefruit juices which seemed to be pretty popular in Israel and frequently found in the fridge at the workplace. Mornings would be spent writing code, working on some design document – getting your stuff done. A hearty lunch would be followed by afternoon meetings – mostly brainstorming sessions, and sometimes updates from the manager or other seniors. I slept through some of them but still enjoyed the discussions. Not everyone would be equally conversant in English, but everyone made the effort. Some would break into Hebrew intermittently. The Israeli accent is good fun. I remember having a particularly hard time initially when somebody dictated a server name to me (cermf3v) – I had no clue what letter is errrkkhh (r) so the guy wrote it and it looked like a v. But workplace was fun, informal, and engrossing. People played songs on the radio through the morning, and that included a lot of familiar Western pop music as well as some nice Israeli songs – one of which I’m still trying to identify and look up by singing into SoundCloud with little success. People were helpful, but they expect you to speak for yourself and have a perspective. The folks who were more fluent in English were extremely forthcoming and helped us with tips and hacks, and suggestions for trips.
Thursday afternoons, we’d have Kabalat Shabat – welcoming the Shabat. People brought the awesomest food from home and we had a mini potluck in the afternoon. No one expected us to do it – so we were the biggest beneficiaries. Some of them would get something they called “dairy cakes” whitish, creamy, crumbly pastries – haven’t tasted anything quite as sinful. I was trying to talk about workplace but mainly spoke about food. But to summarise: utterly sharp people who sometimes assumed that things were obvious to everyone because they were obvious to them.
I used the workstation of a colleague who was on maternity leave. Two more went on maternity leaves during the next two months. A friend quipped that at this rate, Israel would need more skyscrapers. One day, post-luch I saw a guy in army fatigues checking emails at my workstation. I think he was on IDF duty and was there checking emails. He was back after one more week. His name was Ari, a name that my Israeli colleagues also used for me because it was shorter.
Evenings are a great time in Tel Aviv. We roamed around, sampled food from taverns, pizzerias, gelaterias and shawarma outlets. Rarely when we reached early, by 5 pm maybe, we’d head to the beach and walk to the end of the piers, soak up the sun, look around. Young IDF trainees (what’s the correct term), dapper in their khakee fatigues, making their way back like they had not a care in the world – some of them couples, lip-locked on the Dizengoff square. I often walked solo because I liked to hear the street musicians play – and there were plenty of them, almost all above average. You’d see stunt bikers at the beach, you’d see joggers of all ages – even fifty somethings, often in just shorts, jogging down to the beach and back. We made it to one pub once, they played good music and but it was expensive fare. Dinner for me would be the yummy street-food. For the rest of the Indian gang – it would be the more expensive Indian food, usually vegetarian. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Friday till early afternoon, the food festivals in Dizengoff Malls used to be a big attraction. Cheap, yummy food from all across Israel. I particularly remember the mascarpone cheese cakes by a Palestinian Christian woman, and the meatballs with couscous. There I met an Indian couple – a Bengali woman and a Gujarati or Malayalam man who sold Indian food! They could be Jews, I never asked. My Dad’s maternal grandmother most likely was – the woman could well be from the same community I figured.
If we weren’t heading to one place or another the first thing on Friday (we usually were), we’d head to the flea markets and pick up cheap keepsakes, old books, DVDs, yarmulkes and small menorahs. Usually though, we headed straight out of Tel Aviv – Eilat, Dead Sea, Haifa, Tiberias, sea caves up north, even Golan, Masada, and countless trips to Jerusalem and is neighbourhood. We traveled into West Bank (June 2005, during the time of Disengagement), ate cactus fruits on the road to Jerusalem, and I briefly lost balance while climbing the stairs in the Tomb of Prophet Samuel, not too far from Jerusalem.
We had a trusted cabbie, Bachar Hizikiyahu, the owner of a large fleet of taxis and a colorful personality. We saw most of Israel thanks to him.
Shabat Shabat is the weekly religious holiday and a period of passiveness. Between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset – the period of Shabat, there was little public transport available and lots of shops, but not all, would be shut. During Shabat, or if you were meeting someone for the last time before Shabat, you’d great with Shabat Shalom. During Shabat, there would be no El Al flights either. In buildings with elevators, at least one would be Shabat Lift – which stopped at every floor and shuttled up and down without the need for a button to be pressed. In observant households, lights would be dimmed and brightened automatically according to the time of the day. I think you could even passively cook and heat – stuff I’ve never seen having lived in a hotel room.
The cabs were our lifelines especially during Shabat. In northern Israel (Nazareth and Galilee), we had a Christian Arab who drove a mini bus and took us around Galilee and Golan. But it was less fun without Bachar around.
Me at a Golani ranch.
Israel is more expensive than the US – and as trainee engineers, we didn’t have a whole lot to spend. 1 USD was roughly 4 NIS, and 1 NIS was roughly 10 INR then. Our shopping was limited to fresh fruits, snacks, toileteries and some local Israeli wine. And yes, a set of Ahava toileteries with Dead Sea salts, and a diamond ring I never managed to buy for my girlfriend (we married a year later). The nectarines were just so tasty – and I remember the Ethiopian girl at the counter would often give the nectarines for free if I had taken other stuff and not too many nectarines. The Carmel port wine suited my palate too, and I’d pick up a bottle now and then. I coud only stare in awe and agony at the windows of the music shops with their red Strats, cellos (hard to come by in India), double basses!
Israel is just so steeped in beauty and historical sites, from Yad Vashem, the old city of Jerusalem with its quarters, souks, Roman walkways, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the twin mosques, to the country side, the kibbutzim (went to a huge one near Galilee), to Beersheba in the Negev (we were on a train and back a week before a deadly crash in June 2005), Eilat, the Dead Sea – you experience first hand the sights described in so many historical accounts including religious texts.
It’s mild and warm in Tel Aviv, which is on the beach. It gets both warmer and much colder in Jerusalem depending on the season. In Israel you get winter rains and while we missed the snow in Jerusalem, it’s not that uncommon I hear! For an Indian, there is not much acclimatization to do otherwise.
Cheerful young and old people at the beaches, great and pragmatic engineers, engaging conversationalists and raconteurs, quite a few well-built, lean, muscular, sporty, outdoorsy people. A disproportionate number of female smokers – perhaps there are stresses they deal with that we’d not understand. Humorous people – the humour could be a tad dry, and loaded with cultural references and self-deprecation. I have always felt very close to the Israeli culture – it never felt alien.
I had this silly fantasy, of camping under the stars on a summer night, somwhere along the way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, near the hills where it gets quietest. Never managed to. I miss Israel.
FROM A WOMAN IN ISRAEL SINCE 2002:
Ok, so as others have already answered, everyday life feels like the same as any other place in the world. But as someone who have not lived here my whole life, let me point out a few things that are local peculiarities for me:
- There are lots and lots of soldiers walking around all the time. Many times carrying huge guns. And it’s not a military assault (as my father-in-law thought it was the 1st time he came to the country), they are just moving from one place to another, like anyone else. People are completely indifferent to them and their guns. It happened to me once that I was on a crowded bus and some soldier fell asleep next to me, with his gun on his hands not only pointing, but actually poking my leg. And when I complained about it, the answer was “so what? the safety’s on!”
- Most of the country is quite safe. I mean, nothing is a bed of roses ok? There is crime and robbery and murder and rape and violence. But in comparison to other places in the world, on daily base the streets are quite safe, even at night.
- There is a war or armed conflict more or less every 2 years. That mostly means a neighbouring country shooting missiles at Israel, who answers accordingly. The south is 99.9% of the times the most affected, then the north, then the center. During war time, people in the center of the country live their lives as if nothing is happening, even when occasionally the air raid siren goes off (it’s quite rare for it to happen in the center of the country), people are mostly annoyed to have to stop what they’re doing to go into a bunker for 10 minutes and then go back to what they were doing. In the south it works quite differently. Many times they need to stop going to school/work because the sirens are too frequent and people have very little time to hide. This causes quite a mess on the economy and education, as well as psychologically, as you can imagine.
- People on the street are very loud. When I just came to the country I used to think that people are in general very angry, but truth is that they just speak like that. I think that this is where the “Sabra” name for Israelis came from – on the outside they look very harsh, but in general they are nice, caring people. Even too much, some times. Israelis have no shame on asking you the most personal questions and intrude into your life, just with the intention to help. If you ask someone on the street a simple question like “where is line 6 bus stop?”, the answer will most likely be “where do you want to go?”. And they don’t understand what’s wrong with it.
- Although the country opened its doors for Jews from all over the world and you can really hear tons of different languages on the street and everywhere else, there is a lot of discrimination. A lot. And I’m not even talking about Muslims and the illegal workers that come from Africa. Among Jews there are several groups, normally more or less divided in Ashkenazim, Sefaradim and Mizrahim. I’d even add another group – the Ethiopians (I’m not gonna go into a history class and explain each group separately, you can check out this article in Wikipedia). From these groups you can add sub-groups of religious and non-religious. Discrimination can show up in several different situations, but they may include people refusing to rent an apartment to someone or decline a job candidate because of their ethnicity.
- I can’t tell about other countries, but both food & Real Estate in Israel are freakishly expensive in comparison to Brazil.
- People in general have healthy eating habits, or try to. Israelis eats lots of salads and vegetables and lean meat and cheese. On the other side, I find it funny as some people who are not religious and don’t keep kosher will not eat meat and dairy together because they think it’s not healthy.
- Although the health system is very good, a regular doctor appointment will probably last about 5 minutes and your doctor will look annoyed all the time.
- Religion has a lot of control over your life. Because of it, there’s nearly no commerce or public transport on Sabbath. Non-kosher food cannot be sold in regular stores/supermarkets; you have to go to a specialized store to find it. During Passover, they cover up whole sections on the supermarkets where Chametz is sold and you can’t buy anything from there. That includes even baby formula and a few types of shampoo and other non-edible products. But you can go to Arab neighborhoods to get Pita, for example.
- It’s not unusual for people who work very hard and have very good salary to be in debt or even to be unable to finish the month. Life is expensive, the people are very consumerists and the banks not only allow but encourage clients to take loans.
This is what I’ve come up with for now. In general Israel is a pleasant place to live, but it’s also quite a challenge. 🙂
FROM A CLERK (2012 TO PRESENT)
Life in Israel is very similar to life in most Western countries. We have all the usual technology, including computers and mobile phones. There are a range of jobs in manufacturing, marketing, agriculture, service industries, health services, education, and high tech.
Some things I could contrast with our former life in the USA:
There is universal health coverage. The basic package is covered by “National Health Insurance” that is deducted from your paycheck and applied to membership in the HMO of your choice. Like any other tax, it is a percentage of your income. If you are not working, the “National Insurance” stipend (like Social Security) pays your health coverage. For additional coverage of services not covered by the basic package, you can pay an additional premium if you want. This system is not perfect but much better than the USA. A visit to your primary care doctor doesn’t cost anything. A referal to a specialist is available for a small fee. Referals to tests or treatments not offered by the local clinic also cost a small fee. Prescriptions are subsidized. Medical records are now computerized, so your information is shared by all the places you are receiving care. Test results from other providers show up on the computer of your primary care physician. Recently I took my grandson to the pediatrician for an eye infection. She looked in the computer and said, “He had the same thing about this time last year. Maybe it’s a seasonal allergy.” She gave him a prescription and told me to go to the pharmacy of the clinic, where the prescription would already show up on their computer. I presented his magnetic ID card and got the prescription.
Public transportation is widely available within cities and also between cities, with frequent and widespread bus lines. Bus fares are reasonable and quite affordable. So, while it may be convenient to have a car, it is not necessary for survival and we have lived very well without a car for the past 37 years in Israel. School children and senior citizens pay half fare on buses and trains. In the past few years transport cards consisting of rechargeable magnetic cards can be used to charge monthly bus passes and other discount programs on the public transportation system. You charge up your card on the bus or at the train station and use it to pay for your travels by inserting the card in the fare reading device on the bus or in the train station. Recently the transport companies have installed electronic schedule boards at bus stops showing which buses are expected within the next half hour or so, and how many minutes away they are. These boards are powered by a solar panel at the top of the device.
Most homes have solar hot water heaters on the roof. In cold weather an electric booster can be used to supplement the solar power. We have the electric booster on a timer so it turns on for about an hour at a time about 3 times a day during the winter. That is enough to keep the water hot all the time. During the summer we don’t need to use the electric booster.
Israeli weather is sort of like California. The Negev area is like southern California, Tel Aviv has been compared to Los Angeles, and Haifa has been compared to San Francisco. But we hardly get any snow at all, except on Mount Hermon, because we don’t have the high mountainous areas that California has. In recent years, Israel has built 3 desalinization plants on the Mediterranean coast, so even in a year with scant rainfall we have not experienced the kind of drought that California has experienced, and water is not rationed. If we are already talking about water, every home has modern plumbing but not everyone has a bathtub. For instance, we have two bathrooms, in each one there is a toilet, a sink, and a shower. In the kitchen we have a double sink: one side for dairy dishes and one side for meat dishes. We didn’t always have this luxury (for years we lived with a single sink) but recently we had renovations and added this.
Israeli homes don’t have built in closets that are part of the structure. Instead people have clothes cupboards. You have to take into account that this takes up floor space in your bedroom. These cupboards may need to be replaced from time to time as they wear out. The cupboards usually go from floor to ceiling on one wall of the room and have 3 types of storage: hanging space, shelves, and drawers. They come in different styles and sizes.
Most homes do not have central heating. Instead various types of space heaters are used in the different rooms of the house. Some homes use air conditioning that cools in summer and heats in winter. Large institutions are more likely to have central heating or air conditioning.
I do most of my banking via ATM and internet. I hardly ever go to my bank branch, but there are some kinds of transactions that can only be done at the branch. Israeli salaries are usually paid by direct bank transfer from the employer’s account to the employee’s account. Very few companies will pay salaries by check or cash. Salaries are normally paid once a month, though it is possible to get an “advance” in the middle of the month. In Israeli banking, unlike American banking, there is something called “authorized overdraft”, which is actually a credit line the bank extends when you “go into minus”. You sign for the amount of credit you want to have available to you (and that the bank is willing to give you, based on your monthly income), and you pay interest on the “overdraft”. If you are not in overdraft, and you have a plus balance, you may actually get some interest from the bank on the plus, though not as much as what is offered for a proper savings account.
In contrast to Americans, most Israelis live in apartments rather than single homes. Also a large proportion of the population rents, rather than buying their apartment.
Israel now has lots of malls and shopping centers, and most people do most of their grocery shopping at supermarkets, although there are still open markets where you can buy fruits and vegetables and all kinds of goods at the stalls. Israeli towns usually have a “market day” for these open markets, and people go for the low prices and good quality of the produce. Some towns have permanent markets with rows of small shops lining the streets of the market area.
Israeli education starts with day care centers for working parents of infants and toddlers, then prekindergarten from age 3, then kindergarten at age 5, elementary school from first to sixth grades, junior high from seventh to ninth grades, and high school from tenth to twelfth grades. Theoretically from kindergarten through twelfth grade public school is supposed to be free, but there are certain fees that the parents end up paying even in the public schools, and books and writing supplies are not free. Most schools have some kind of uniform, though in recent years it usually consists of a teeshirt or sweatshirt having the school symbol on it. Some private and religious schools have a more formal uniform.
In Israeli towns you see more people out and about on the streets than you do in many American towns. Society is more open and your are more likely to know your neighbors. Kids run around the neighborhood and play, run errands for their parents to the local mom-and-pop grocery or bakery, and ride buses by themselves to extra curricular activities and entertainment. People generally feel safe on the streets in day to day life.
Israel is a cosmopolitan country with lots of different ethnic groups intermixing on a daily basis. In the town where I live, there are Jewish populations from various origins and also Muslim Arab and Christian Arab populations. It is typical to go to a supermarket and see Muslim women wearing hijab mixing with Jews and Christians, among the shoppers and among the employees.
Well, I have run on long enough. I hope this gives a general idea.
FEB. 2017 (a guy)
- 24×7 – No place in Europe or US (New York being somewhat of an exception) where you can go and grab a bite to eat or find a dance club like you can in Israel (mainly Tel Aviv and some other pockets. It can take you sometimes an hour at 2am to find a parking spot since so many people are just doing what you at that time.
- Mandatory Army Service – No place in Europe (Switzerland being the exception) or US where every teen know that when they graduate high-school they will need to join the army and put everything on hold. At 12th grade teens in Israel don’t talk about which college they applied for rather which unit they wanted to go to and what tests in the Army they were summoned to.
- Long work days – In Israel people work long hours, similar to the US. Obviously this doesn’t apply to all occupations, but it does apply to the private sector.
- When you hear sad songs on the radio, you know something bad happened. The entire state mourns whenever a soldier is killed or a terrorist attack took place.
- There is one day a year where no cars can drive anywhere in the country. Yom Kippur is holy for everyone and all the roads are closed. Many people take their bikes and enjoy the ability to ride on the road.
- On the memorial day for the fallen soldiers and holocaust memory day there will be two minutes where all the cars on the roads will stop, all the people around the country will stand in silence to remember those who were gone. When you are in Israel it feels like the world had stopped for a few minutes.
- Everything is expensive from rent to food prices are just high
- heat heat heat… the weather is just hot during the summer. Some people love it, like I do, but it is hot.
- Almost every person is bilingual. Many speak russian, polish or Arabic and most speak English at some level.
- Arguments are very common. Israelis are very argumentive. They find a reason to argue about anything anywhere.
- Everyone has an opinion about anything. There is a joke that says that every two Israelis have 3 opinions.
Overall Israel has a high standard of living. It is in the top 10 of ‘happy’ countries and while life is hard most people do enjoy them more than in other places.
ISRAELI-AMERICAN AUG. 2016
Every day life in Israel is like every day life in most Western First world countries.
People go to work, children go to school, taxes are too high, parking is a nightmare.
But it’s not all bad. You have beautiful beaches, incredible museums, great places to eat, and a fantastic culture.
Friday nights, many families get together for Sabbath meal (even secular) and you spend time with those you love, nourished by a rib busting meal and rib busting hugs and laughter.
There’s a lot of kids in Israel. Families, even secular ones are large. 2–3 kids are the norm and families of four aren’t unusual even amongst atheist families. Israeli culture is child friendly.
You do have a few differences. There’s security everywhere. There are soldiers all around. There are bomb shelters clearly listed. People are vigilant against terrorism. Friends can be called up for service, and unfortunately, sometimes terrorism gets through the crack and the nation mourns.
But for the most part, it’s a normal and beautiful country.
GUY, ESL TEACHER, SEPT. 2018
I’ve lived in Israel for over two years now and I notice in these comments a nice white washing or attempt to make Israel appear more cosmopolitan or western. I recall receiving some advice not too long ago that really resonated with me:
“If you think about Israel as a third world country, you are bound to fall in love. However, if you think you’re walking into another America or Western Europe you are going to be gravely disappointed. “
This is the best piece of advice I can give about my experiences here. The bureaucracy here in the day to day life is awful. Israelis are notoriously unfriendly ( don’t get me started on the religious ones). The transportation system is awful for a country this small because for parts of two days every week the entire country stops it’s public transportation system ( Friday night to Saturday night). When you add in the holidays you could sometimes go 4 days in a week without transportation. The food and rent is so overpriced it’s hard to go out and enjoy yourself if you don’t have a very high paying job.
Okay those are my complaints. Now I know you’re wondering; “well why the hell is this guys still there??!!”
I genuinely love Israel. It is such a quaint and accessible little country (granted you have your own car) with so many different pockets of culture. I have lived in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. They are about an hour apart but might as well be on different planets. The Arab parts of Jerusalem have , without a doubt, some of the best foods I will ever taste in my life. Also, although I myself have witnessed much anti-Arab racism, I have also (more times than not) seen a truly integrated society where people generally get along wonderfully. This isn’t to enter in the realm of politics, or systemic discrimination; I am just talking about my day to day life. In both universities I studies (Hebrew U and Tel-Aviv U) we would always have intermixed groups and no one even mentioned the fact. Also learning Hebrew helped me exponentially. Once I was able to break through the language barrier a little, I realized that Israelis aren’t rude,…They’re just …Israeli…. It’s part of their personality to be excruciatingly direct to the point of making foreigners uncomfortable. In the US this attitude would definitely be seen as very aggressive but here it is just normal. I also love the abundance of immigrant cultures. I live between a Russian immigrant town (Bat Yam) and the historically Arab city of Jaffa. They couldn’t be closer but soooo very far away. I absolutely love that! Very different from the mono-culturalism in much of the US.
GUY NOV. 14, 2018
A couple of facts to give a clue about how life in Israel looks like.
- You see soldiers everywhere and they are working to guarantee the security of everyone, including tourists. Or do you prefer to see terrorists everywhere?
- Israel has immigrants from all around the world. So, walking by Israeli streets, you listen to people speaking Hebrew, Arabic, English, Yiddish, Russian, German, etc. The same for the gastronomy, dishes from everywhere.
- Tel Aviv is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city like Barcelona, Berlin, and Miami. It’s also a gay-friendly spot. Important to remember that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where homosexuality is not illegal. Nightlife, cafes, and bars are abundant in Tel Aviv.
- You don’t need to be polite in Israel. You have the flexibility to break rules and challenge them, so you it’s quite normal Israelis cutting off queues, replying without being asked, etc. That’s normal and what I most like about Israel (since I do the same!). In Israel, you just need to ask and step up.
- Jerusalem is a more religious city, where the Orthodox Jews are concentrated and Arabic community is big as well.
- Almost everyone you get to know has a startup or works at one, mostly something related to technology.
- Contrasting to other Middle Eastern countries, Israel is a modern country where you have the liberty to live your life since you don’t affect others’ rights. Israelis are very open-minded in general (if you’ve been in the Arab world, you know what I mean).
- For women travelers, you won’t be harassed!
WOMAN JAN. 2018
I have lived in Israel for 37 years now. It goes through stages. The first five years can be a “pink cloud” where everything is wonderful, especially if you are Jewish and here for Zionist or religious reasons.
The bank debts and mortgages and other downsides hit you and you are overwhelmed. Then you work your way through this. After about ten years you become reasonably fluent in Hebrew, have connections, and have an understanding of how things work here. At that point you can more or less settle into normal life.
I am a Gentile who came here in 1981 as a postdoc at Technion, so I had the rather unusual battle of becoming accepted in Israel as a non-Jew. This took eight years of fighting with the Interior Ministry, but in the end I won. Living in Israel is different depending on who you are, and if you are Jewish it is different from being a non-Jew. No matter how long you live in Israel and no matter how much you contribute to the country, there will always be Jewish people who tell you that you don’t belong here and should leave. This hurts.
However, if you are tough and determined and able to stand up and fight, this can be a good place to live. Israel is small and flexible so if you want to do something badly enough, you can find a way to do it. I had the experience of being a Negev pioneer for ten years, and the experience of being responsible for survey and monitoring for nature conservation across the entire country for twenty years, so I was roaming from Galilee to Eilat for 20 years on my work. That was wonderful. I retired here and now I do landscape archaeology; Israel is like ground zero for archaeology. It’s packed. So I have been content in my work.
Beyond that, the food is wonderful (part of the great Ottoman Turkish kitchen), the climate is fairly mild, the people have a lot of vitality and intelligence, and one is never bored. The downsides include a war every ten years or so, terrorist security risks (but street crime is rare), high expenses, chronic debt is normal, and a lot of aggression. You need a lot of backbone to deal with that and a lot of people leave when they find they cannot handle that.
I’m told that I am an unusually rugged individual and I guess that is what made it possible to carve out a life here, but after nearly four decades, I’d say I am content. But for sure, I had to stand up for myself. If you can’t, it’s not a good place to be; you will be eaten alive.
JEWISH MAN, ZIONIST, JAN. 2018
Living in Israel is fantastic. It’s a beautiful, highly developed, democratic country. Life here carries all the benefits of Western Modern World, but with charm of Middle Eastern authenticity to it.
Israel is a very expensive country to live! There are great many reasons for it, but we ( the Israelis ) are complaining anyway.
It’s nice to realise that 69% of this World’s gadgets come from your backyard! It’s good to know that my children shall be able to chose professions, I couldn’t dream about. Israeli High Education is excellent, and cheap. Graduates of our universities are most welcomed almost everywhere.
Israel is only country in the World, a Jew can live, without a fear of Antisemitism ( present or future ). Jewish cultural heritage, religion ( for some ) are here in plenty. One just has to show interest for these matters.
Your humble could become a citizen of UK, USA, or Russia by now. I’ve chosen once, and I’d choose again, to be a citizen of our beloved Jewish State of Israel.
JEWISH MAN JAN. 2017
Thank you for the A2A.
I suppose it depends on who you are, as it does in every country. If you’re poor, everyday life can be rough. If you’re wealthy, less so.
But there are certainly nuances within this truth. Your average Jeruslemite’s life is pretty similar to your average Brooklynite’s in some ways.
They go to the Makolet/Convenience store. They have jobs. They eat, sleep and love as you do.
However, there are plenty of things that differ. Israel can be a peaceful place, but there’s no denying the constant vigilance Israelis are forced to live with.
But a week ago, the country was shaken yet again by yet another terrible terror attack, resulting in several tragic deaths.
For reaons like this, we have a very present military. The IDF is everywhere, and its quite common to see armed civilians frequently.
A week before my flight here, I was with my Mom in NYC. Penn Station, to be exact. There were a few homeland security soldiers, in full army gear, brandishing big guns and everything.
My mom turned to me and said, “See, here in NY, you see stuff like that and do a double take. But in Israel, you’ll find yourself accidentally bumping into people’s guns all the time!”
Mom was right. But I, like the rest of Israel, am quite used to it, and understand why they’re there.
Safety in Israel is a big deal, and I won’t lie about occasionally glancing over my shoulder in some places at certain times.
JEWISH MAN FEB. 2017 I heard a historian on TV contrasting Israel and America on the one hand with Europe on the other hand. He said Europe defines itself in terms of its past, whereas Israel and America still define themselves in terms of their future– not what they were in some vanished centuries of glory, but what they intend to make themselves into. For that reason Europe, he said, considers itself divided into the haves and and the have-nots; in Israel and America it’s the haves and the don’t-have-yets. It does make a big difference when a society is pursuing a purpose rather than simply living out its days. And in Israel, more than in America, there’s the feeling that everyone’s pitching in together, I heard a story– from Dan Arieli, I think– about taking a long taxi ride in California. The taxi passed a big, unusual-looking building and Arieli asked the driver “What’s that building?” The driver said, “Beats me.” They continued out of town, down the highway, and he saw another town in the distance, off to one side. “What’s that town?” “I don’t know.” Arieli was surprised because in Israel, citizens care about every town and townspeople care about every building; everything is something “we” built as part of the common endeavor. Of course there are also tensions between the subcommunities in Israel. Among the Jews, the tensions are steadily being solved by intermarriage and social mobility. Between the Jews and the Arabs, I hope that they will somehow resolve themselves into the ethos that I experienced as a child in the USA. When they taught me about the founding of the country and about its forefathers, I was implicitly taught– and accepted– the idea that although they were Christians and I was Jewish, by being born in America I became an owner of a full share in their dynamic legacy.
MAN 2007 – 2017
Fun and busy… with an elevated level of caution.
Two stories that highlight this:
During one of the recent Gaza wars, I was living on a kibbutz in the south. One night we had near constant rocket sirens and had to basically spend the night in a bomb shelter. However, the kibbutz leaders had turned the larger one into a lounge with sofas, a bar, DJ station, hammocks, and air mattresses. It was a nice night, despite having to be there.
I was working in a PR company in Tel Aviv during another Gaza war. One day I was on the phone with a client in Africa and a rocket siren went off. I simply told him, “I’m sorry, but we’ve got a rocket siren going off, I’m going to go to the bomb shelter and I’ll be back in 5–10 minutes.” He didn’t think I was serious, but I had to hang up on him. I grabbed one of our office dogs that was cuddling my feet under my desk and carried her to the bomb shelter with the rest of the people on our floor. When we went back, I called back the guy who was a bit annoyed until I sent him a report on the 10 or so rocket attacks we had gotten so far that day in our area alone, and he was amazed that I had acted so calm. ***
I never felt too afraid for my life when I was living there, but there was always a heightened sense of caution while I was out studying, working or having fun. There was always plenty of all three.
Original answer: What’s it like to live in Israel?
Well, I think many people already talked about the lifestyle here and what’s going on on a normal daily basis, but I’d like to take this question to a slightly different place.
Living here is… I don’t really know how to describe it, but it’s the feeling of a bond that you just instantly have with people.
It’s going to any other country abroad, meeting other Israelis and connecting without trying to. Once, an Israeli guy in a mall in Poland just randomly asked me and my friend to help him find a gift for his mom just because he heard us speaking Hebrew, which we happily did.
It’s feeling united in times of war, when the south (me included) was being thrown bombs at, and knowing that if you feel tired from it all, you can easily find a family in the other side of the country to happily take you in.
It’s the entire country mourning over one or a few Israelis who died in a terror attack abroad. It’s realizing that we need to stay together at rough times and help each other. It’s knowing someone will always have your back at home.
It’s living in one side of the country, and being surprised when you visit the other, because, well, in just a few hours of drive, you can get to a place so beautiful that it will blow your mind, and you’ll probably ask yourself how you’ve never seen it, even though it’s right under your nose.
It’s going to an amzing vacation abroad, and still want to spend your free time swimming and diving in Eilat or just relaxing in the Dead Sea, because it’s ours.
It’s going all over the world on ski vacations, surfing on the highest and most amazing mountains, and still get exited when the Hermon mountain is being opened to visitors for a month on a good year.
It’s watching all the great soccer or NBA teams abroad, sitting in the most amazing stadiums there are, and still know that there’s nothing like Macabi Tel Aviv or Ha’opel Be’er Sheva. Because it’s ours.
It’s pushing and cutting in lines and traffics, it’s being proud to say you’re Israeli when your abroad, it’s being mad together about every single thing about this place and to keep living in it anyway.
It’s joining the army, it’s watching Borekas movies, it’s listening to both Shlomo Artsi and Eyal Golan at the same time even though they couldn’t be more different and it’s understanding that even though we all came from different places, this is home.
I could go on for hours.
So as a person who has lived here her entire life, it’s one of the greatest expirences I’ve had. Have you ever grappled with thoughts of moving to Israel? Here I am just having made one of the biggest leaps of my life; marriage wondering can I take this next leap? We are here for the holiday’s on the first leg of our honeymoon, cushioned by family and the ” feeling” of security of our American jobs. However unlike previous trips where thoughts of moving to this county was a distant fantasy, now amongst so many established and even authentic citizens I find myself wondering; can I live here? The hurtles I’ve heard about and the new found concerns I have are festering inside of me so I thought I’d write my dilemma down and hopefully get some input from others. Now to be fair I’m asking almost everyone I meet on this trip questions such as what are/were you’re biggest challenges living in this country or how can I prepare for Aliyah while I’m still in the states? I seem to be getting similar answers with varying emotions behind them. Many have responded to the above questions with ” it’s a totally different culture” or “you need to be prepared to change you’re whole outlook on life when you move here”. This leads to comments on the work situation in Israel, the high prices ( relative to earnings) for most, and the cultural differences. Others seem to emphasize the differences between living in a very Anglo community versus plunging head first into a very Israeli one. With no family here and both my wife and I in the helping profession I wonder how our lives would have to change? On the more comforting side I do feel more warmth between people here then I do in the states, however I wonder with all the “hardships” of moving here are feelings a luxury I can’t indulge. Another major realization I’ve had is that secular Israeli’s that I’ve come across especially the younger generation are barely Jewish. I’ve spoken to a few who say there Jewish identity is more connected to their being Israeli then to being Jewish. As someone who doesn’t quite fit the orthodox mold nor the secular one I amaze at where I would fit? Can I learn the language, can I learn and live the mannerisms, can I handle the pushiness and survival mentality that seems to permeate this country? More accurately do I want to, and if yes why?? These are just some of my thoughts, concerns, and inquiries. If there is anyone who has gone through this confusing experience that I find myself in or can shed any light on the process, benefits etc. I would be most appreciative. Thank you for reading, I hope to read your input. Sincerely, Zev
JAN. 2018 (2001 to PRESENT)
Like in most developed countries, there is a lot of freedom and equallity here.
We are free to think and believe what we want, choose any profession we’d like, move anywhere, and many more stuff that people cannot do in other countries.
Woman, Ethnic minorities, Homosexuals, and everyone really have the same rights which include -not to be dicriminated against. Homosexuals don’t yet have a right to marry.
Israel is a geogrphically small country, so driving from Eilat in the south, to Mt. Hermon in the north, may take about 8 hours. 40% of the population lives in what is called “Gush Dan”, which takes up 7% of the land. The variance of views is extraordinary for the countr’s size. In the south you have a desert, and big goles in the ground which are called “Makhtesh” and are exclusive to Israel’s south(the negev) and to the sinai peninsula. In the the west you have the Mediterranean sea. In the East you have the salt sea. In the north you have a lot of plants montains, Rosh aNikra grottoes, and even snow. So going on a family trip timea and timea again, shouldn’t get tired.
The israeli culture is very unique. Because all jewish citizens are a first to third generation immigrans – you have a blending of cultures. In my class of 12 kids, we have a couple of “russian kids”, two kids whose ancestry’s are very confusing nationally (pretty common here), a kid whose greatparents are from south africa, one whose greatparents are from Alger, and three whose greatparents are from both “Ashkenazi” and “Mizrahi” countries(European and Middle Eastern accordingly, simpilfied of course). The food is a blending of middle eastern and western food. For example, we eat Hummus, Shawrma, Falafel, and right besides a shop that serves these, there could be a McDonald’s or a Pizzahut. The music industry is influenced both by the united states, and the middle east. The media industry as a whole, is pretty much relying on the U.S’s industry. But don’t make a mistake, there is a fair share of origional music, series, and movies here.
I think that Israeli jews are both more united, and divided than other nationalitis at the same time. The unity is due to the fact that Israel is always under a threat, and because we all have the same jewish nationality, binding our faths for longer than 70 years. This unity can be seen in the memorial days: of the army, of the holocaust, and of rabin. It can also be seen in all the volunteering work done in Israel, there ia no one that didn’t volunteer in his life, and it is actually mandatory for you to finish school, many people exceed the requirments and do much more hours than required. At the same time, we are more divided, this is due to the fact that there is a spectrum of connectedness to religion, and because the people here grew up in different cultures. My generation I think, is much more connected than the othrt ones.
The israli mentallity is pretty special too. Hierarchy is questioned, ooprutunities are taken, any person knows better than the other, and you are linked to any other person by a common friend, or by one of his friends.
The worst parts in Israel are the religuous laws, the unintended discrimination against arab israeli citizents, and what seems as corruption. The religious laws limit some of our freedom, such as one that prohibits bus companies to operate on Saturdays. There are laws against discrimination of minorities, but Israel is portrayed in the Israeli mind as a jewish state, this makes it hard for arabs to fit in, especially when morons decide its okay to be racist against a minority that suffered a lot, which is a disputable fact, which is irrelevant to the debate of who is to blame. Most arabs didn’t integrate well into the big cities, living mainly in arabic majority towns. Legally they have the freedom to think and believe what they’d like, and the schools curriculum doesn’t consist of judaism or the jewish nerrative of history – their education system is centered around them, not us(Me saying them and us, just shows the seperation between the communities). Also, workplaces and universities have saved places for arabs, and many charities and laws are made to discriminate in favor of arabs, this is called “fixing discrimination”. All I sayed doesn’t mean I don’t have arab friends, just that their number is smaller than it statistically should be.
Some pharagraphes from the original answe:
The cities are pretty developed with plenty of cultural sites, places of entertainment, businesses, places of education and work, and parks.
The schools are much smaller than the ones in the US, but education-wise – they are better.
There is always a danger of being attacked, but it doesn’t affect our daily lives.
At the end of it, how you experience life comes down to your family, your friends, and how you choose to spend your time.
DEC. 2012 You know, usual. You get up in the morning, you eat breakfast, you go to work or school. The public transportation is not that great, but you can get around. You see a lot of diverse people on the street: secular Jews, mildly religious Jews (small skull-cap for men, long skirts for women), ultra-religious Jews (black clothes for men, very modest dresses and often wigs for women), Muslim and Christian Arabs. In Tel-Aviv you’ll see a lot of Africans – refugees who came recently because of wars in their home countries. There are many immigrant communities, so in addition to Hebrew and Arabic you’ll hear quite a lot of other languages – Russian, French, English, Spanish. In touristic places like Jerusalem and Haifa you’ll see a lot of tourists speaking a lot of languages. Many of them are Christians who are visiting holy places, but there are also a lot of people who just want to have fun and see something interesting. The cinemas show pretty much the same movies that you’ll find around USA and Europe. Mostly American. A funny thing: a “movie” is an American movie; an Israeli movie is usually called “an Israeli movie” and not just “movie”; a “foreign movie” is neither American nor Israeli. Israeli cinema industry is far from being the best in the world, but a few brilliant movies were released lately, some even nominated for Oscar. Finding wi-fi is quite easy. There are quite a lot of shows of local music. The local music is full of diverse talents – rock, Mediterranean pop music, world music, reggae, hop-hop. Many artists mix all of the above into a particular local blend. The main language of the music is Hebrew, of course, but some artists sing in English, French, Spanish and other languages. I could talk about it for a very long time; feel free to ask about more specific things.
FEB. 2018: on The Sabbath Israel almost shuts down as people stay at home or in the synagogue, or both. The Sabbath elevators in the multistory buildings are set on automatic so the elevators go up and down all day, opening and closing their doors at every floor, by themselves. It is a bit erie. It is impossible to get butter for bread in many restaurants it you are having a meat dish. Ice cream, Gilda, is non dairy and delicious. You can hear the children singing off and on in the elementary schools. The bus drivers drive like maniacs and the drivers radio is always on, usually tuned to the news station. People are loud and generally happy. Family is still everything . There are signs: if a tourist goes into a religious district a sign will warn you to be modestly dressed. If you visit a grave site a sign will warn the kohens ( priestly part of of people) not to enter (as contact with the Dead is forbidden them).). Signs in general are in Hebrew, Arabic, and sometimes French or English. . Like France there is a lot of cafes with people sitting on the streets in front of them. There is a lot of delicious Middle Eastern type food. People floating in the Dead Sea cover themselves with mud. People still ride donkeys around Jerusalem. Every sort of dress, head dress is worn there. Money changers still run around with money fanned out in one hand so you can chang your money into shekels. Begging is legal. Some sects of religious Jews run around in fur hats – in the heat. Bedouin people still migrate in and out of Israel. When visiting Hadassah Hospital I saw Bedouins sitting on the floor outside ther relatives’ rooms. Everyone steps around them. Terrorists who attack Israelis injured in that attack are treated in the Hadassah hospitals. Everyone I visited had a ‘Pushki’ a charity box their change went into. The Army kids on duty run around with rifles slung on their backs as all of the citizens form a standing army. It makes you feel safe. Everyone keeps an eye out for packages unattended as they might contain a bomb. There are kibbutzim, some are secular and some religious. They are also a line of defense against terrorists . There are tourist from all over the world. Their historical sites, like Ancient City Jerusalem is 10 feet under present day Jerusalem, or Masada build by Herod who was despised by the people, are amazing.
AMERICAN MAN, AUG. 2016 Thanks for your request but I am a native-born US citizen and have never lived in Israel. “My” country is the USA. In my Israel visits I have observed that everyday life is pretty much the same as any advanced Western democracy except for high vigilance against terrorists, rockets, and unaccompanied packages in public places. The Israeli Red Cross is far more visible having to respond to terrorist bombs against innocent civilian adults and children. The food includes many outstanding middle eastern dishes such as hummus and falafel, as plentiful on streets as McDonalds Hamburgers are in the US. Also, like the US recently, political discussion has become extremely adversary, to put it politely.
JAN. 2015: Why do I have the feeling I already answered this question? Anyway, most of the time it’s pretty much a standard Western country, with a mediteranian style of manners and social ties and touches of middle eastern culture. It’s been quite pressing financially for the past 5-10 years or so, when costs of living are higher and salaries aren’t. Healthcare coverage is pretty good, except for the cramped hospitals at the moment. Roads are getting better and better. Education is deteriorating but is still in a high standatd, especially the academies. There is a lot of diversity. A city is different than a moshav, which is different from the Arab village which is different than a religious neighborhood, that is different that a religious moshav that is different than an ultra orthodox neighborhood. The view and landscape also changes dramatically as you travel through the 500 km long country. So there is always where to travel, except that on holidays there is hardly a single quite piece of land to stop for air. Especially when the wheather’s great. People are almost always casual. Suits are very rare, maybe unless you’re a lawyer. People can go to work in shorts in the summer in many workplaces. What else? Good food\U0001f603\U0001f603
MALE BORN AND BRED ISRAELI SEPT. 2017:
Q: What’s it like to live in Israel?
What is Israel like On a day to day basis?
Pretty much like any other developed liberal Western country. Work, fun, sleep (occasionally).
We have a very easy climate, and aside from a few weeks in the summer, it’s probably the most moderate in the West.
Israeli cities are safer than in the vast majority of Western countries. Practically no violent crime. So, except some very specific areas that one is unlikely to visit anyway, the streets are as safe at 3am as they are at noon.
The presence of Jewish holidays is very much felt in the public domain, so you’ll have less traffic (and no public transportation) on Shabbat (Saturday) and NONE on Yom-Kippur. Holidays are festive times and food shopping goes crazy beforehand (almost all Jewish holidays can be summarized as: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat”).
While The Situation (as we call it) is always in the background, it’s exactly that. Unnoticed, unless there is the rare spike in activity. So we have a lot more Situational Awareness, but nothing extreme and mostly just a good habit anywhere.
EDIT: It would be really nice if people did a SEARCH for a question before asking it. I just merged FOUR versions of this one, after another A2A.
FEMALE MISSIONARY (1989 TO present), WRITTEN IN DEC. 2017
Living in Israel is much the same as it is in other countries, but there are some things very unique to the nation and her people.
I have lived in different countries all over the world, including Israel, but never have I felt a family connection with the entire nation as one feels in Israel. It’s as if everyone is your best friend or neighbor.
Hospitality is a by-word in Israel. You always keep the water hot to offer coffee and you keep cookies on hand to offer anyone who comes in your door. People don’t need or wait for an invitation to visit. They come if they feel like it and you are always glad to see them no matter what is going on in your life.
It’s true there is a huge military presence here, but that is to be expected from a nation where every boy and girl has to join the military when they get out of school. They carry guns, even many citizens carry guns, but no one notices because it’s normal.
The people are warm and passionate but have quick tempers as well. An argument might erupt suddenly but it will die down and become friendly again just as quick.
Taxi drivers are crazy so hang onto your hat if you have to use a taxi.
Every Friday night, the entire nation shuts down and does not reopen until Saturday night. Religious holidays are kept by the whole country as well as the sabbaths.
Fresh produce and fresh bread are staples of life and you can forget about eating a pork chop. Pizza is made with corn, olives, cheese, tomato sauce and never any meat.
Insurance for autos is expensive, but there is a great taxi system and bus system so you don’t need your own car. Plus, everyone in Israel walks places.
It is safe there….you feel safe. You can walk around on the streets all alone at 2 or 3 in the morning, even for women, and not feel afraid anything will happen to you.
Everyone who lives in Israel must learn to speak, read and write Hebrew. If you don’t people will not wait on you in stores or at banks etc. until you do learn. They offer free classes at many libraries and other buildings which are guaranteed to teach anyone to be speaking and reading Hebrew in 6 months or less.
No dishwashers, no electric dryers, not many air conditioners but there is always a breeze that blows over the whole land almost all the time. It gets very hot in the summer….sometimes up to 130 degrees.
I loved loved loved living there and miss it a lot.
RUSSIAN IN ISRAEL (1973 to PRESENT) I am with Amir E. Aharoni – usual. My morning bus driver is back from his reservist duty (and so some of my co-workers). The morning bus and the evening bus are still half empty, but it’s going to change very soon, when the academic year’d start. The winter came for a short (and violent) visit, but tomorrow’d be 28 Celsius again and no rains are expected till Monday. The work on the building near mine never stopped during Gaza war. The contractor is a Druze, the architect is a Jew, the workers are an Arab clan (they take family holidays together), I asked about a strange piece of machinery, and hearing my accent, the guy started to answer in Russian. He had to switch to Hebrew, because my Russian vocabulary did not include some of the terminology. A week before the holidays I forgot my water bottle at home and started coughing on the bus. My evening bus driver gave me some of her water. She speaks Russian, this driver – like 75% of her regular passengers. Me, I am not a regular anymore – I mostly take the next bus. Standing in the traffic jam we exchange recipes, news, tips. The route, that takes 15 minutes in the morning, takes 45 minutes in the evening – and that’s usual too. On Friday I forgot to charge my cell (also pretty usual occurrence) and when I finally did it, I discovered, that I have missed a funeral of the father of one of my co-workers. Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll go to console him with some of other co-workers. And next week I am going to a wedding – a woman, that used to work with me several years ago, is marrying off her younger son and she is inviting her ex-co-workers, all those, who were with her, when her older son got killed in an Army accident. This is usual too – the life goes on. And just now I have disconnected on a telemarketer. Yes, this is usual too. 🙂
JAN. 2015: All I can say is that after almost 38 years of living in Israel (although I found trips abroad helpful to my mental health… it is a bit of a pressure cooker and the experience makes you much more rugged) I have never regretted for a single minute my decision to make Aliyah. I would not live in any other country at any price; life in Israel is an intellectual quantum leap and the unique structure of the Hebrew language, understanding, speaking and thinking in it has a large part. I honestly feel sorry for any Jew who is missing out on the pride and joy of serving in the Israel Army or its ancillary elements; it is an opportunity which when expired offers no raincheck. Look at the ongoing Islamization of USA, thanks to the present leader and the lemmings who elected him; the sooner you come to your G-d given home the better Real Estate deal you will get, the better Jewish education your children will get, and if you (…suffer from the delusion that you…) must postpone your Aliyah for whatever reason, at least invest in a building lot in the Holy Land for their sake.
What is it like living in Israel?!
Well…we go to work or school’ during the day; we go out to pubs or the theater or concerts (pop or classical or andalusi/Middle Eastern) and especially cafes in the evening – yes, even on weekdays! We shop in supermarkets or hole-in-a-wall corner groceries, malls and open markets…and more and more – on the internet because Israelis are suckers for new technology and local prices are high. Casual dress is not just for Fridays and includes work attire, weddings and funerals. We are child-friendly, gay-friendly and generally do-your-own thing friendly society.
All this — and a lot more, is reflected in the soft news reported in the Israeli Hebrew press and ‘outed’ — in English, in the zany news website Chelm-on-the-Med Online at chelm dash on dash the dash Med dot com. Check it out. It may transform your impressions of Israel.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a bilingual Israeli journalist and I founded the Chelm Project 9 years ago as a pro bono endeavor, to balance overly conflict-driven news about Israel that warps perceptions about “what’s it like living in Israel.”
MAN MARCH 2017
Israel is a state in which your everyday life is very different depending on your national identity and, for Palestinians, when Israel seized control of your town. For Jewish-Israelis, who are the first-class citizens, there is also a question of what is your ethnic background, level of religious compliance and, of course socio-economic position.
The Palestinians under military rule in the OPT live under an authoritarian, arbitrary regime with little to no defense of their human rights, virtually no legal protection from arbitrary violence and dispossession and very little access to healthcare, education and basic utilities.
The Palestinian citizens of Israel live in a fundamentally two-tiered system in which they have very little access to state funding, inferior access to education and public services, judicial discrimination and no access to power, since their representatives in the Israeli parliament are systematically excluded from it.
Thus this question has to be rephrased to ask what life is like for every category of citizen, since these vary very widely.
WOMAN SEPT. 2016
Life in Israel resembles life in other western countries, but it is really much better. Adults go to work or to learn, children go to school, and life quietly goes on its merry way. So what is so different here? We live in a child-oriented society where your child is everyone’s child and everyone will tell you if they feel that the baby is too hot, too cold, needs socks, doesn’t need socks…well, you get the idea. Where a 5 and 6 year old are sent by their mother to the corner grocery with a list of what to bring home to bring to the man that runs the store, and no one worries that something will “happen” to these cute little children. Where people will yell at each other, but then would give the shirt off their backs to help you if you need it.
Even the threat of terror that simmers in the background, a real threat and one that affects the life of every Israeli, cannot ruin our lives here.
Israelis are generally happy people, relaxing at the beach or at a café, spending their weekends with family and friends. And people who live here wouldn’t want to live anywhere else….
JUNE 4, 2018:
Wake up, if I succeed in getting up before 6am, I get a workout in, otherwise, I’ll have to push that to some other time in the day. Then get toddler from crib and give him a bottle, shower, get dressed, Pray, grab coffee and protein shake for breakfast and something for lunch. Kiss wife and kids goodbye. Run out to hitch a ride out of the neighborhood to the bus that will get to my office. Usually the commute is 1.5 hrs, but if traffic is bad it could take 2+.
8:30–9:30am Get to office, turn on computer, grab 2nd coffee and check email.
Review loan docs and applications, prep quarterly reports, research, Lunch, maybe another coffee if its gonna be a long day, meetings, phone calls, etc.
7–8:30pm Leave office to catch bus and hitch back home
9–10pm get home, say hi to wife, eat dinner, clean up, Work out if I didn’t in the morning
Of course that changes if I have football practice or a game. Sunday can be slightly different, many times I”ll leave the office earlier, especially if my son’s football team has a game, and if it’s NFL Season we’ll watch the game at 8pm.
The weekend here is Friday-Saturday. That’s when I get family time, bbq, things of that sort.
Basically it’s like everyday life everywhere else.
JEWISH MAN DEC. 2013 It’s normal, if you’re asking because you watched something on the news, that was probably overdramatic and an overall ‘news story’. To be honest I don’t really like living here, alot of things are pricey [especially electronics such as laptops and stuff, which is what I usually want to buy] because this country is small and doesn’t have that much local production factories so stores or you have to pay a shipping cost/taxes which makes things more expensive. And its the same for apartment prices, if in the USA you can have an apartment of your own at your 30s/late 20s, here the payment for an apartment carries over to your whole life another Con of living in a small country. There’s also religious freeloaders that get legitemacy by the goverement, corrupt govrement personnel. K I guess this turned into a rant so imma stop. tl;dr It’s not a warzone or w/e you see on the news. Though I still think it’s not that much of a good place to live in, at least for me.
Israelis are preoccupied with work, love, pastime, car, news, shopping, travel, family. Sounds familiar? Yes, because humans in the West have more or less the same problems and joys. Housing, though, is very expensive here, so many Israelis have to work very hard till they can buy an apartment or a house.
Security concerns are unique to Israel compared to other Western countries. Military service, terrorism, occasional full-fledged wars with the neighbours, make a big difference in our lives here.
The culture here is a mix of Euro-American and Middle Eastern. Music, shows, foods, come from both sides.
Sometimes bureaucracy is more complex here than in the West, other times technology is so good, that it makes life smoother here.
The three main areas of friction here are: Jews-Arabs, Religious-secular, Ashkenazi-Sepharadic Jews. Still, somehow it is working
OCT. 2017 The standard of living in Israel is high and is constantly improving. Israel’s standard of living was ranked 18th in the world based on the UN Human Development Index in 2015. Israel’s ranking was higher than many Western European countries including Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and Austria. It is considered a high-income country by the World Bank. Israel also has one of the highest life expectancies at birth in the world. However, Israel still suffers from poverty, though poverty rates are disputed.
LIVES IN ISRAEL. JAN. 2015 Israel is a very diverse country with many closed communities that are separated by religion, origin, ideas of what should be done with the country, language, tradition, etc. The communities are a bit rough to each other and political correctness is hard to find, but most people take it lightly with a lot of humor around these subjects. Most people live in peace with their neighbors, but there are extremists who don’t accept the diversity. Some of these extremists, though a minority, cause a lot of trouble. We love our country but sometimes we hate what’s happening in it, especially when it comes to corruption and violence.
1985 TO PRESENT
Prices, racism, and religiousness are constantly on the rise. If you are secular you are constantly told that you have to suffer from this because “40 years ago eastern jews were mistreated by the evil ashkenazi jew communists”. The current generation of youth is raised to worship god and hate everyone who is different. We are on the way to become Iran/Saudia/Russia but with jews.
All the people who talk about how good Israel is are ignoring this education crisis and the rise of anti western forces within Israel, they prefer to look at the past/present, where the influence of western ideologies is still strong in Israel. This will not last.
STUDIED AT UNIV. OF OKLAHOMA, DEC. 2017
Total, unadulterated hell.
Jobs pay absolutely nothing, everything is expensive, people are unrefined, it’s practically a third world country. The architecture sucks, too. Oh my god, the second most luxurious high rise in Jerusalem looks terrible on the inside. It’s so backwards and just hellish. If you are thinking of moving here, I wouldn’t!!!
SENIOR LEGAL CONSULTANT MAR. 2018 Everyday city life in Israel is peaceful. Each person pursues his individual life of prayer, earning livelihood, going on tours & picnics, buying cars & houses, etc. The external threats to Israel do not bother the city-dwellers. The everyday Palestinian attacks and threats are rarely discussed by Israeli residents.
INDIA MAN DEC. 2017
It’s a highly developed country so I would assume life standard is equivalent to North America and Western Europe.
Security must be heightened due to obvious reasons.
I always knew it was a small country but a thing I learned from Israeli colleagues about how small it actually is.
Its size is less than half the size of my home state in India(Punjab) and Its one of the smallest states of India. Especially the width is too narrow.
Its amazing how much Israel has achieved considering its size and population.
JEWISH RELIGIOUS MAN MAY 2018
I’d like to add a couple of things not mentioned in other answers. One is that thankfully, non-Jewish occasions are completely invisible here. In America, for many weeks the public venue is steeped in “Season’s spirit.” On the contrary, everything Jewish is seen everywhere. And we can live our Judaism without the fear felt in France or the anti-Semitic comments on USA streets.
Also, as a religious man, I can tell you that private religious schools are vastly less expensive than in NYC.
And one other thing. On my first day here, decades ago, I was struck by the beauty and knew within hours that I would live here. Thank God.
What I wrote elsewhere:
This is subjective, so let me tell you my own experience. Having grown up in America and traveled all over New England, I first came to Israel as a young man and was struck by its beauty; and Jerusalem in particular. This beauty is different than anything I’d seen in America, because it had an additional spiritual level.
Picture a city of yearning.
One in which the latest in modern architecture and technology, is found within walking distance of sites so ancient that one thousand years is recent history.
The following famous song about Jerusalem (in translation) gives a tiny hint of the feeling:
The mountain air is clear as water/The scent of pines around
Is carried on the breeze of twilight,/And tinkling bells resound.
The trees and stones there softly slumber,/A dream enfolds them all.
So solitary lies the city,/And at its heart — a wall.
Oh, Jerusalem of gold,/and of light and of bronze,
I am the lute for all your songs.
The wells are filled again with water,/The square with joyous crowd,
On the Temple Mount within the City,/The shofar rings out loud.
Your name will scorch my lips for ever,/Like a seraph’s kiss, I’m told,
Let me not forget thee, wondrous city,/Jerusalem of gold.
FEB. 2014 Greatest country on earth. Life is very normal. Streets are far safer than most places in America. Women and children can be seen on the streets at all hours of the night. There are so many green areas and playgrounds. The vast majority of the country does not live in the desert at all and camels don’t roam the streets.