7 Quick Takes Friday – Israel Edition


I stole the idea of blogging about my countries for the next 3 weeks from Ciska.

— 1 —

Israel’s official languages are Hebrew and Arabic. The Knesset’s (Israel’s parliament) official language is Hebrew. English is a compulsory subject in all state secular, state religious and Arab schools. It’s not compulsory in Haredi schools. You’ll still find more websites in Hebrew and Russian or Hebrew, Arabic and Russian than in English.

— 2 —

There is no civil marriage in Israel. It becomes problematic when you realise that means the people of different religions can’t get married. Luckily Israel recognizes marriages performed abroad (not same sex marriages–yet). Lots of people get married in Cyprus and elsewhere.

— 3 —

The business/school week starts on Sunday in the Jewish sector and ends on Friday, around noon. The Arab sector has Friday off. Some Christian schools/businesses close for Sunday. Yes, our weekends are a day and a half long.

— 4 —

Just to make life even more aligned with the rest of the world, the official calendar of Israel is the Hebrew calendar. It makes it fun… really. So yes, Chanukah always falls on the same date, Kislev 25, it’s Christmas that keeps moving around.

— 5 —

We have compulsory military service for both genders, in a coed army, regardless of sexal orientation. Gays have been serving in our militray for a long time. Even my HIV+ child is welcome to join the military. My two current soldiers are home about every other weekend, and for a day in the weeks in between. My little brother came home for a weekend from war during the Second Lebanon War.

— 6 —

My favourite thing about Israel is the diversity. Everyone comes from somewhere within a few generations, yet our roots are all in the land.

— 7 —

The Eurovision Song Contest is kinda big here. We have won it three times, and while last year’s entry didn’t make the final, I have hope for this year’s song, “Time” by the band Izabo. It was an Israeli song that managed to take home all threeย Marcel Bezencon Awardsย in 2010. Yes, it was the adorable Harel Skaat with “Milim“. So if you are in Europe, and your country is in the first semifinal on May 22, please consider voting for the Israeli song!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

6 Responses to “7 Quick Takes Friday – Israel Edition”

  1. doesitevenmatter3 says:

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us!
    I am learning from you!
    I like the diversity part.

  2. Annie says:

    Isn’t Ciska a clever girl? I’m glad I introduced you?

    I loved that idea she had, but am SO embarrassed that I CAN’T really imagine what someone might not know about the US, because I haven’t been out of here enough to get a long view.

    How many interesting things YOU shared! Little did I know! I knwo about the different Orthodox calendar, but didn’t know there was a different Hebrew calendar. The infomation about marriage is surprising, too. I did know about the military service. In Russia it is mandatory for men, and they still don’t hve enough for everyone to do. How to they manage ato fill the “soldiers” time? Is there any issue with ultra conservative Jewish girls mixing like that with men?

    • Hevel says:

      Oh my gosh, Ciska is BRILLIANT! I adore her (not in the Catholic way of adoration, though).

      The thing about the Jewish calendar is that it has nothing to do with the rest of the calendars out there. It’s Iyar 16, 5772 today. Well, Iyar 15 for you, as I guess the sun hasn’t set yet. I have calendars listing both dates, otherwise I can’t keep up, as we have like 6 different year lengths, too. So it’s messy, but it has lasted 5772 years, supposedly, so who am I to complain?

      Well, the military here is HUGE. Young men serve 3 years, young women almost 2. Women can and do get exemption if they are religious, same with ultra orthodox men, who tend to abuse the system. My brother when he was ultra he still served in the army, in one of the religious units. He even received combat training. There’s an alternative to military service called the National Service. It’s kind of like what Germany, Hungary and many other countries had for conscripts who refused to serve in the armed forces for religious reasons.

      Our soldiers do everything from maintaining bases to actually defending our country. They clean, they shoot, they work, they educate… there’s always something to do. The difference between Russia and Israel is that here we live in constant threat of war and under constant attack. So we are always prepared.

  3. Ciska says:

    Thanks for calling me brilliant! I’ll try to live up to that standard. ๐Ÿ™‚
    1. Okay, I didn’t know Arabic is an official language in Israel. I feel stupid now.
    2. That’s just weird!!!
    3.-4. The dates must be so confusing … especially when you’re in international trade or something. And how does that work with weekends? How do you ever remember which shops / companies are open when?
    5. I just can’t get used to the idea of soldiers being ‘normal’. It’s completely the other way around here. It actually scares me.
    6. It’s interesting that you said everyone has their roots in Israel, even though they weren’t born there. I guess even non-Israeli muslims and christians (and Jews of course, but that goes without saying) feel like that. Israel is where it all started. The anti-Israel attitude in Belgium really irks me.
    7. They won’t air the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgium this year. Not that I have a television, but still: what’s up with that?!

    • Hevel says:

      7. How come they are not airing it? You have a participant! You guys are supposed to vote! They can’t participate and not air it! You are up against Hungary and Israel in the first semifinal and we need your votes! ๐Ÿ˜€ I actually don’t hate the Belgian entry this year.

      1. Oh, I know, it’s not popular in the Western media that Arabic is one of our official languages, and our Arabic population over 18 are franchised regardless of gender, and so on and so on. It is somehow all Israel’s fault that there are fewer and fewer Christians in the West Bank, esp. the PLO controled areas… Because Jesus was a Palestinian. (Yes, Vatican officials have said both). Anyway, I think that ties into 6. Also, the Muslim homeland is Saudi Arabia, not Israel, so my Muslim friends here in Israel feel like their roots are there.

      3-4… You just get used to it. ๐Ÿ˜€

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