When we’re on pilgrimage in Jerusalem, it can be all too easy to remain in our western bubble of culture and inadvertently be rather rude to the Israeli people who live and work there every day. By ensuring we’re aware of the cultural differences between us and the local residents, we can extend the hand of friendship and create positive relationships between pilgrims and the residents of Jerusalem.
Clothing and attire
When we’re on pilgrimage in Jerusalem, it’s always best to dress modestly. Whilst some places are highly liberal with how they expect people to dress, just a 5 minute walk could see you in a Orthodox or Ultra-Orthodox area where you would be inappropriately dressed.
Interacting with the Ultra-Orthodox community
In the West, we think nothing of day-to-day interactions with the opposite sex, but by following these simple rules, you can show respect for Jerusalem’s Ultra-Orthodox community:
• Don’t extend handshakes to people of the opposite sex
• When in a religious area of the city, public displays of affection are considered inappropriate
• If you take a bus, do not sit next to an Ultra-Orthodox person of the opposite sex, and on Ultra-Orthodox segregated buses, women are required to sit at the back.
In Israel, you’ll notice that people are extremely informal, and will always assume you’re on a first-name basis unless you’re performing a professional service. It is completely fine to talk to them on a first name basis, too.
Punctuality and patience
You’ll be expected to take it in good humour if someone cuts into your queue to just ‘ask a question’ or to pay for just one item at a shop. Similarly, punctuality is not a priority in Jerusalem, where there’s a more laid-back approach to meeting up.
If you happen to be invited to a Shabbat dinner in a Jewish home, there are a few things to remember so that you don’t offend your hosts:
• If you’re eating a meal with meat, do not ask for any milk products
• Do not smoke
• Before turning lights on or off, check with your host first
• Turn your mobile off, or place it on its silent mode
• Remember to bring a small gift
• If you plan to bring wine, ensure it’s Kosher and don’t be offended when it’s not opened that evening
Since 1991, ITS Pilgrimages have been accompanying people on life changing pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Contact us for more information on our pilgrimages today.