There are no special medical issues in Israel, and no immunizations are necessary for travel here. Pharmacies and hospitals are available in all major cities and emergency and health care is to a very high Western standard. Pharmacists and all medical personnel speak adequate English. In Israeli pharmacies, the "over-the-counter" stuff is in fact over the counter. Ask the pharmacist if you need anything. Travel health insurance is highly recommended; although all Israelis are covered under the national health insurance system, foreigners will be expected to pay for any treatment received in the public hospitals or at a clinic.
Tap water is potable and perfectly safe for drinking all throughout Israel, big cities and rural parts alike.
Street food is safe and clean, including fried dishes, fish and different salads. It still is wise to use common sense and avoid anything suspicious.
Due to the hot climate in sunny Israel, remember to use sunscreen throughout your stay and drink a lot of water.
Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel. Hebrew is most commonly spoken. 20% of the population are Israeli-Arabs who speak Arabic as well.
English is the most popular foreign language. Israelis study English in school from an early age, and it is commonly understood in Israel. Nearly anyone you meet on the street will be able to communicate with you in English. All street and road signs and many others have English names, as well as the Hebrew and Arabic names.
Massive immigration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s brought a large number of immigrants who speak Russian. Other commonly encountered languages in Israel, reflecting the diverse origins of Israelis, include Romanian, French, German, Polish and Spanish. Some of the older members of the population and some of the ultra-orthodox population speak Yiddish, an Eastern-European Germanic Jewish language. Foreign workers from China, Philippines, Thailand, and other Asian countries can be seen everywhere in central Israel. You can hear a mix of a dozen languages while on buses, trains or walking in transportation hubs, especially in Tel Aviv central bus station.
While speaking Hebrew Slang, words of Arabic origin are commonly used. For example: "Walla?" Is that so?, "Yalla!" Come on, letâs move!, "Sababa" great, "Akhla" good, "Sachbak" friend, and many more. Street talk is also much affected by military jargon, which is second nature to many Israelis.
See also: Hebrew phrasebook, Arabic phrasebook
Foreign television programmes and films are mostly American, and almost always shown in their original language with subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Hebrew.
Israel is a technologically advanced society, and internet cafÃ©s are widely available in most cities and towns. The regular price for paid internet cafÃ©s is about âª15 per hour but you can get it for about âª10 in some of the more local places. Free wi-fi access is common in cafÃ©s check individual articles. All branches of 'Aroma Espresso Bar', 'Arcaffe', 'CafÃ© CafÃ©', 'McDonalds' and 'Yellow' convenience stores have free wi-fi access, though in some you will have to approach the staff for a password.
Recently, the "Jerusalem WiFi" project started. This government started project aims to cover the entire Jerusalem area with WiFi although at the moment the only areas covered are in the city center. A similar project has started in Tel Aviv.
Please note that Israel is considered the home state and motherland for Judaism. When travelling to Holy Sites, or going through religious neighborhoods or towns, please be very tolerant as the natives will be with you. Also be aware that in Holy Sites men and women should dress in modest clothing to respect the sanctity of the site.
Visitors to Israel are very often astounded at the almost compulsive need of Israelis to listen to the news. Ecclesiastes may have stated that âThere is nothing new under the sun,â but Israelis believe the opposite: they look forward to the news every hour on the hour out of a seemingly mystical belief that today is different from yesterday. This story could sum this attitude up.
A few years ago the newly-appointed ambassador to Israel of a western European country presented his credentials to the president. After the brief ceremony, the two exchanged the usual pleasantries when the president suddenly looked at his watch, begged his guest's pardon, and turned on the radio on his desk.
The ambassador waited patiently while the president listened to what was a news bulletin and turned the radio off. When the ambassador asked âWhat happened?â, the surprised president replied, âNothing.â. The ambassador said, âI thought that if you turned on the radio, you must have a special reason,â and the president said, âNo, it's a conditioned reflex. If I don't hear the news, I am uneasy for a full hour ' until the next newscast....â. Another reason said for the constant run to the news is in the early years of the state, Israel was under constant pressure from its surroundings; everyone wanted to know, "Are we at war again?"
Israel is generally a very relaxed country with a western-oriented outlook, but it is fundamentally Jewish in every positive sense of the term. There are a few situations when this should be kept in mind. Visitors to some synagogues, most churches, and all mosques should be aware that entry will normally not be permitted to those with exposed legs i.e. wearing shorts or short skirts or women with exposed upper arms. Women may be denied entry or ordered to wear a robe before entering mosques or synagogues. Carry a wrap or bring a change of clothes. Mosques will also require you to take off your shoes before entry. Men should cover their heads in a synagogue.
The Arab-Israeli situation is an emotional issue for many, as is the Holocaust/Shoah, as well as much of Jewish History generally. One should be especially respectful to the Holocaust/Shoah as many Israelis are grandchildren of survivors, and most if not all of the Ashkenazi (European Jews who make up 50% of Israel's Jewish population lost family members during the Holocaust.)On the other hand, most people, both Israeli and Arab, would be happy to answer your questions. In addition, one probably should not make disdainful remarks about Judaism toward observant Israelis nor the Quran for Muslims. It is very disrespectful and could land you in hot water!
Israelis sometimes compare themselves to the prickly pear or sabra: said to be tough and prickly on the outside yet sweet and soft on the inside. Israelis are direct in a way that might seem abrupt, even rude, in other parts of the world. Do not be offended by this as Israelis do not mean to insult or offend in any way. Directness and honesty are often valued over politeness and projection of niceness. Direct personal questions are common, and should not be taken as offensive. The information Israelis collect on you is meant to help you in a good way, not to set traps for you. Israelis are used to fighting for their right to exist and have to hold their own against the pressures of the family, religion, the army and other Israelis. Loud and heated debates and arguments are socially acceptable and should not be taken as a sign of hostility. Israelis are typically careful not to be perceived as a FRIER, often translated as "sucker", meaning someone who pays too much, stands in line quietly as others jostle past, and is generally taken advantage of instead of standing up for himself.
But Israelis are also very kind and hospitable. Strangers will gladly assist you, and make great efforts to help a lost or inquiring tourists, sometimes over-whelming you with advice and questions. When you make a friend here, they will do their best to take care of you while you're in their country. Foreign visitors are deeply appreciated and are generally shown the utmost respect by locals. Many will even go as far as to show you around some areas in Israel as a sign of their own national pride and towards respect for tourists.