Posted by: Melissa C | April 13, 2010

Cultural Awareness – Israel

CLICK HERE to access a PDF version of this presentation!



  • Capital – Jerusalem
  • Languages – Hebrew and Arabic
    • English most common foreign language
  • Population – 7,233,701
    • 97th in world
  • Religion – Jewish (76.4%)
    • Muslim (16%)
    • No official religion
  • Area – 8,522 square miles
    • 152nd in world
    • Slightly smaller than New Jersey
  • Independence – May 14, 1948
    • From League of Nations
  • Median age – 29.1 years
  • Literacy – 97.1%

Business in Israel

  • Typical Israeli businessperson is secular
    • Not religious
  • Business operates at 2 speeds: extremely slow vs. right now
  • English is increasingly the language of business
  • Work week: Sunday – Thursday; observance of Sabbath
    • Sundown Friday to sundown Saturday
  • Successful deals promise immediate return
    • Strong sense of fatalism due to history of war and attacks
  • Long decision making process
  • Confrontational and emotional negotiating style
    • Expect shouting
  • Some companies forbid employees from accepting gifts
    • Past problems with bribery

Some Useful Facts…

  • Large segment of Israeli Jews are secular
    • Rarely observe forms of Jewish faith
  • Views itself as a “multicultural mosaic”
    • Not a melting pot
  • Average visitor does not even witness violence
    • Even during high levels of terrorist activity
  • Do not adopt traditional native clothing
    • I.e. yarmulke, Arab headgear
    • Do practice modesty in dress (especially women)
  • Speak louder and stand closer than most North Americans
    • Less formal
    • Many have damaged hearing from military service
  • Equality of men and women
    • Both subject to army training
    • Many women in business
  • Jewish and Islamic calendars differ from Western
    • 28 day vs. 30 or 31 day
  • Women should not hand anything directly to Orthodox men
    • Place on table for him to pick up

Implications for our Fields

  • Tourism and Hospitality
    • Historical/cultural tourism
      • Holy Land of 3 religions
      • Western Wall, Dome of the Rock, Nazareth, Bethlehem, many UNESCO sites
      • Yad Vashem – Most museum per capita in world
    • Nature tourism
      • Modern beach resorts on Mediterrean
      • Red Sea, Dead Sea
    • Medical tourism
      • Travel to countries to have procedures at lower costs
      • $40M in revenue in 2005 – surgeries, accommodations, shopping, sightseeing
    • Ecotourism
      • Wildlife, farming, camping experiences
      • Nature reserves
  • Sport and Recreation
    • Soccer
      • Ligat ha’Al – Israeli Premier League
    • Basketball
      • Maccabi Tel Aviv – Top domestic league, one of best in Europe
    • Baseball
      • Israel Baseball League – Est. 2007, first in Middle East
    • Winter sports
      • Figure skating, skiing and snowboarding in Golan Heights


  • Educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults (18–26)
  • Diminish divide between Jewish communities and Israel
  • 10-day trip sponsored by various organizations
    • Private philanthropists, people of Israel through government, Jewish communities around the world
  • All expenses paid – airfare, hotels, activities, meals

Toda raba!


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