The roots of the culture of
Israel developed long before the
independence of the
State of Israel
State of Israel in 1948 and traced back to Ancient
Israel (c. 1000 BCE). It reflect Jewish culture,
Jewish history in the
diaspora, the ideology of the
Zionist movement that developed in the
late 19th century, as well as the history and traditions of the Arab
Israeli population and ethnic minorities that live in Israel, among
them Druze, Circassians, Armenians and more.
Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem are considered the main cultural hubs of
Israel. The New York Times has described
Tel Aviv as the "capital of
Lonely Planet ranked it as a top ten city for
nightlife, and National Geographic named it one of the top ten beach
With over 200 museums,
Israel has the highest number of museums per
capita in the world, with millions of visitors annually. Major art
museums operate in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem,
Haifa and Herzliya, as well as
in many towns and Kibbutzim. The
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra plays
at venues throughout the country and abroad, and almost every city has
its own orchestra, many of the musicians hailing from the former
Soviet Union. Folkdancing is popular in Israel, and Israeli modern
dance companies, among them the Batsheva Dance Company, are highly
acclaimed in the dance world. The national theatre, Habima was
established in 1917. Israeli filmmakers and actors have won
awards at international film festivals in recent years. Since the
Israeli literature has been widely translated, and several
Israeli writers have achieved international recognition.
1.1 Impact on Western civilization
1.2 'Melting pot' approach
4.1 Ancient Israel
4.2 Modern Israel
5 Literature and poetry
5.1 Ancient Israel
5.2 Roman Judea
5.3 Old Yishuv
5.4 Modern Israel
6 Science and technology
6.1 Ancient Israel
6.2 Modern Israel
7 Visual arts
8 Performance art
8.3.1 Roman Judea
8.3.2 Modern Israel
10.1 Ancient Israel
10.2 Modern Israel
13 Youth movements
14 Outdoor and vacation culture
15 Wedding customs
16 See also
18 External links
See also: Demographics of Israel
With a diverse population of immigrants from five continents and more
than 100 countries, and significant subcultures like the Mizrahim,
Arabs, Russian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Secular
Jews and the Ultra
Orthodox, each with its own cultural networks, Israeli culture is
extremely varied. It follows cultural trends and changes across the
globe as well as expressing a unique spirit of its own. At the same
Israel is a family-oriented society with a strong sense of
Impact on Western civilization
The statues of
Michelangelo (left) and
David by Nicolas
Cordier are examples of Western art, influenced by the
The bible is a cornerstone of Western culture
Judaism is the foundation of Western morality. It
impacted the West in a multitude of ways, from its ethics to its
practices to monotheism; all of its benefits largely impacted the
world through Christianity. The
Hebrew Bible, authored by
Land of Israel
Land of Israel from the 8th to the 2nd century BCE, is a
corner stone of Western civilization. Around 63 BC,
part of the Roman Empire; around 6 BC
Jesus was born to a Jewish
family in the town of Nazareth, and decades later crucified under
Pontius Pilate. His followers later believed that he was resurrected,
inspiring them to spread
Judaism throughout the world. Christianity
also spread through the Greco-Roman world. Later this would lead to
the creation of the West itself.
Christianity, the religion of the West and essential religion of the
Western World, grew from Judaism and began as a Second
Temple Judaic sect in the mid-1st century. The New
Testament, authored by first-century Jews, is one of the bedrock
texts of Western Civilization as well.
'Melting pot' approach
Religion in Israel
Religion in Israel and Jewish diaspora
With the waves of Jewish aliyah in the 19th and 20th centuries, the
existing culture was supplemented by the culture and traditions of the
Zionism links the Jewish people to the Land of
Israel, the homeland of the
Jews between around 1200
BCE and 70 CE
(end of the
Second Temple era). However, modern
Zionism evolved both
politically and religiously. Though
Zionist groups were first
competing with other Jewish political movements,
Zionism became an
equivalent to political
Judaism during and after the Holocaust.
The first Israeli prime minister,
David Ben Gurion, led a trend to
blend the many immigrants who, in the first years of the state, had
arrived from Europe, North Africa, and Asia, into one 'melting pot'
that would not differentiate between the older residents of the
country and the new immigrants. The original purpose was to unify the
newer immigrants with the veteran
Israelis for the creation of a
Hebrew culture, and to build a new nation in the country.
Two central tools employed for this purpose were the
Forces, and the education system. The
Israel Defense Forces, by means
of its transformation to a national army, would constitute a common
ground between all civilians of the country, wherever they are. The
education system, having been unified under Israeli law, enabled
different students from different sectors to study together at the
same schools. Gradually, Israeli society became more pluralistic, and
the 'melting pot' declined over the years.
Some critics[who?] of the 'melting pot' consider it to have been a
necessity in the first years of the state, in order to build a mutual
society, but now claim that there is no longer a need for it. They
instead see a need for Israeli society to enable people to express the
differences and the exclusivity of every stream and sector. Others,
Mizrahi Jews who are more
Shomer Masoret and the Holocaust
survivors, have criticized the early 'melting pot' process. According
to them, they were forced to give up or conceal their Jewish Masoret
and their diaspora heritage and culture, which they brought from their
diaspora countries, and to adopt the new secular "Sabra" culture.
Today the cultural diversity is being celebrated; many speak several
languages, continue to eat food from their cultural origins, and have
Main article: Languages of Israel
Hebrew ulpan in Dimona, 1955
Arabic are the official languages of the State of
Israel, over 83 languages are spoken in the country.
As new immigrants arrived,
Hebrew language instruction was important.
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who founded the
Hebrew Language Committee, coined
thousands of new words and concepts based on Biblical, Talmudic and
other sources, to cope with the needs and demands of life in the 20th
Hebrew became a national goal, employing the slogan
"Yehudi, daber Ivrit" ("
Jew - speak Hebrew").
Special schools for
Hebrew language learning, ulpanim, were set up all over the
The Hebraizing of family names was common in the pre-state period and
became more widespread in the 1950s. In the early years of the state,
a pamphlet was published on how to choose a
Hebrew name. The prime
David Ben-Gurion, urged anyone who represented the state in
a formal capacity to adopt a
Main article: Education in Israel
Israel was named the second most educated country in the
world according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development's Education at a Glance report, released in 2012. The
report found that 78% of the money invested in education is from
public funds and 45% of the population has a university or college
Further information: Jewish philosophy
Segment from the book of Ecclesiastes, an example of a philosophical
work in the bible
Ancient Israeli philosophical ideas and approach can be found in the
Psalms contains invitations to admire the wisdom of God
through his works; from this, some scholars suggest,
Judaism harbors a
Ecclesiastes is often considered to
be the only genuine philosophical work in the
Hebrew Bible; its author
seeks to understand the place of human beings in the world and life's
Book of Job
Book of Job were favorite works of
medieval philosophers, who took them as philosophical discussions not
dependent on historical revelation. In other books such as
Book of Wisdom
Book of Wisdom of the Jewish apocrypha, there
are references and praise to the concept of wisdom which was to have a
primordial significance for Jewish thought.
See also: Category:Israeli philosophers
Modern Israeli philosophy has been influenced by both secular and
religious Jewish thought.
Martin Buber best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of
existentialism centered on the distinction between the I–Thou
relationship and the I–It relationship. In I and Thou, Buber
introduced his thesis on human existence; Ich‑Du is a relationship
that stresses the mutual, holistic existence of two beings. It is a
concrete encounter, because these beings meet one another in their
authentic existence, without any qualification or objectification of
one another. Even imagination and ideas do not play a role in this
relation. In an
I–Thou encounter, infinity and universality are made
actual (rather than being merely concepts). The Ich-Es ("I‑It")
relationship is nearly the opposite of Ich‑Du. Whereas in
Ich‑Du the two beings encounter one another, in an Ich‑Es
relationship the beings do not actually meet. Instead, the "I"
confronts and qualifies an idea, or conceptualization, of the being in
its presence and treats that being as an object. All such objects are
considered merely mental representations, created and sustained by the
Yeshayahu Leibowitz was an Orthodox
Jew who held controversial views
on the subject of halakha, or Jewish law. He wrote that the sole
purpose of religious commandments was to obey God, and not to receive
any kind of reward in this world or the world to come. He maintained
that the reasons for religious commandments were beyond man's
understanding, as well as irrelevant, and any attempt to attribute
emotional significance to the performance of mitzvot was misguided and
akin to idolatry. The essence of Leibowitz's religious outlook is that
a person's faith is his commitment to obey God, meaning God's
commandments, and this has nothing to do with a person’s image of
God. This must be so because Leibowitz thought that
God cannot be
described, that God's understanding is not man's understanding, and
thus all the questions asked of
God are out of place. One result
of this approach is that faith, which is a personal commitment to obey
God, cannot be challenged by the usual philosophical problem of evil
or by historical events that seemingly contradict a divine presence.
If a person stops believing after an awful event, it shows that he
God because he thought he understood God’s plan, or
because he expected to see a reward. But “for Leibowitz, religious
belief is not an explanation of life, nature or history, or a promise
of a future in this world or another, but a demand.”
Joseph Raz is legal, moral and political philosopher. Raz's first
book, The Concept of a Legal System, was based on his doctoral thesis.
A later book, The Morality of Freedom, develops a conception of
perfectionist liberalism. Raz has argued for a distinctive
understanding of legal commands as exclusionary reasons for action and
for the "service conception" of authority, according to which those
subject to an authority "can benefit by its decisions only if they can
establish their existence and content in ways which do not depend on
raising the very same issues which the authority is there to
settle." This, in turn, supports Raz's argument for legal
positivism, in particular "the sources thesis," "the idea that an
adequate test for the existence and content of law must be based only
on social facts, and not on moral arguments.". Raz is acknowledged
by his contemporaries as being one of the most important living legal
philosophers. He has authored and edited eleven books to date, namely
The Concept of a Legal System, Practical Reason and Norms, The
Authority of Law, The Morality of Freedom, Authority, Ethics in the
Public Domain, Engaging Reason, Value, Respect and Attachment, The
Practice of Value, Between Authority and Interpretation, and From
Normativity to Responsibility. In moral theory, Raz defends value
pluralism and the idea that various values are incommensurable.
Other notable Israeli philosophers include Avishai Margalit, Hugo
Bergmann, Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, Pinchas Lapide,
Israel Eldad and Judea
A. D. Gordon
Literature and poetry
A portion of the Isaiah scroll. One of the earliest known manuscripts
of biblical literature
Main article: Ancient
Hebrew Bible and Dead sea scrolls
The earliest known inscription in
Hebrew is the Khirbet Qeiyafa
Inscription (11th — 10th century BCE), if it can indeed be
Hebrew at that early a stage. By far the most varied,
extensive and historically significant body of literature written in
the old Classical
Hebrew is the canon of the
Hebrew Bible. The Bible
is not a single, monolithic piece of literature because each of these
three sections, in turn, contains books written at different times by
different authors, written from the 8th to the 2nd century BCE. It
is the primary source of ancient
Israelite mythology, literature,
philosophy and poetry. All books of the Bible are not strictly
religious in nature; for example,
The Song of Songs
The Song of Songs is a love poem
and, along with The
Book of Esther, does not explicitly mention
Ketuvim sector of the
Hebrew Bible is a collection of
philosophical and artistic literature believed to have been written
under the influence of Ruach ha-Kodesh (the Holy Spirit). Some content
reflects historical events in ancient
Israel such as the Kingdoms of
Israel and Judah, the siege of Jerusalem, the
Babylonian captivity and
the Maccabean revolt.
Dead sea scrolls
Dead sea scrolls are thousands of Jewish, mostly Hebrew,
manuscripts dated from the last three centuries
BCE and from the first
century CE. The texts have great historical, religious, and
linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known
surviving manuscripts of works later included in the
canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts
which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious and
philosophical thought in late
Second Temple Judaism. Archaeologists
have long associated the scrolls with the ancient Jewish sect called
the Essenes, although some recent interpretations have challenged this
connection and argue that priests in Jerusalem, or Zadokites, or other
unknown Jewish groups wrote the scrolls.
Sermon on the Mount. The
New Testament was authored by Christian Jews
during Roman-ruled Judea
Rabbinic literature and New Testament
Hebrew writings include early rabbinic works of Midrash
and Mishnah. The
Mishnah is the first major written redaction of the
Jewish oral traditions known as the "Oral Torah". It is also the first
major work of Rabbinic literature, written in religious
centers such as Yavneh,
Lod and Bnei Brak, under the Roman occupation
of Judea. It contains the oral traditions of the
Pharisees from the
Second Temple period particularly the period of the Tannaim. Most of
Mishnah is written in Mishnaic Hebrew, while some parts are in
Jewish-Christian movement was formed in
Judea of the early
first-century. The books of the
New Testament were all or nearly all
written by Jewish Christians—that is, Jewish disciples of Jesus,
during the first and early second centuries Luke, who wrote the
Gospel of Luke and the
Book of Acts, is frequently thought of as an
exception; scholars are divided as to whether Luke was a Gentile or a
Hellenistic Jew. The
Gospels were written between 68-110
Acts between 95-110,
Epistles between 51-110
CE and Revelation in c. 95 CE.
Josephus was a scholar, historian and hagiographer who was born in 37
CE in Jerusalem, Judea. He recorded Jewish history, with special
emphasis on the first century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War,
including the Siege of Masada. His most important works were The
Jewish War (c. 75), Antiquities of the
Jews (c. 94) and
The Jewish War
The Jewish War recounts the Jewish revolt against Roman
occupation (66–70). Antiquities of the
Jews recounts the history of
the world from a Jewish perspective for an ostensibly Roman audience.
These works provide valuable insight into first century
the background of Early Christianity.
View to the old city of Safed. The city has been a major center of
mystical activity since the 16th century
Kabbalah and Piyyut
Following the expulsion from Spain and Portugal many
Jews settled in
the Ottoman Empire including Palestine, contributing greatly to the
culture of the Jewish community, especially in literature, poetry,
philosophy and mysticism. The city of
Safed was a center of a
widespread spiritual and mystical activity. Joseph Karo, an author and
kabblist, settled in
Safed in 1563. In safed he authored Shulchan
Aruch, the most widely consulted of the various legal codes in
Judaism. Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, a kabblist and poet, settled in 1535
where he composed the Jewish poem Lecha Dodi.
Isaac Luria (1534-1572),
born in Jerusalem, was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the
community of Safed. He is considered the father of contemporary
Kabbalah, his teachings being referred to as Lurianic Kabbalah.
The works of his disciples compiled his oral teachings into writing.
Every custom of his was scrutinized, and many were accepted, even
against previous practice.
Moses ben Jacob Cordovero founded a
Kabbalah academy in
Safed. Among his disciples were many of the luminaries of Safed,
Rabbi Eliyahu de Vidas, author of Reshit Chochmah
("Beginning of Wisdom"), and
Rabbi Chaim Vital, who later became the
official recorder and disseminator of the teachings of
Luria. Other kabbalists in the
Land of Israel
Land of Israel at that time were Isaiah
Horowitz, Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Abraham Azulai, Chaim ibn Attar,
Shalom Sharabi, Chaim Yosef
David Azulai and Abraham Gershon of Kitov.
Book Week 2005,
Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Main article: Israeli literature
The first works of
Hebrew literature in
Israel were written by
immigrant authors rooted in the world and traditions of European
Yosef Haim Brenner
Yosef Haim Brenner (1881–1921) and Shmuel Yosef Agnon
(1888–1970), are considered by many to be the fathers of modern
Hebrew literature. Brenner, torn between hope and despair,
struggled with the reality of the
Zionist enterprise in the Land of
Israel. Agnon, Brenner's contemporary, fused his knowledge of Jewish
heritage with the influence of 19th and early 20th century European
literature. He produced fiction dealing with the disintegration of
traditional ways of life, loss of faith, and the subsequent loss of
identity. In 1966, Agnon was co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for
Native-born writers who published their work in the 1940s and 1950s,
often called the "War of Independence generation," brought a sabra
mentality and culture to their writing. S. Yizhar, Moshe Shamir,
Hanoch Bartov and Benjamin Tammuz vacillated between individualism and
commitment to society and state. In the early 1960s, A.B. Yehoshua,
Amos Oz, and
Yaakov Shabtai broke away from ideologies to focus on the
world of the individual, experimenting with narrative forms and
writing styles such as psychological realism, allegory, and symbolism.
Since the 1980s and early 1990s,
Israeli literature has been widely
translated, and several Israeli writers have achieved international
Hayim Nahman Bialik
Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Science and technology
Further information: Biblical cosmology
The early activity in science in ancient
Israel can be found in the
Hebrew bible where some of the books contain descriptions of the
Biblical cosmology provides sporadic glimpses that may
be stitched together to form a Biblical impression of the physical
universe. There have been comparisons between the Bible, with passages
such as from the Genesis creation narrative, and the astronomy of
classical antiquity more generally. The Old Testament also
contains various cleansing rituals. One suggested ritual, for example,
deals with the proper procedure for cleansing a leper (Leviticus
14:1-32). It is a fairly elaborate process, which is to be performed
after a leper was already healed of leprosy (Leviticus 14:3),
involving extensive cleansing and personal hygiene, but also includes
sacrificing a bird and lambs with the addition of using their blood to
symbolize that the afflicted has been cleansed.
Intercropping (Lev. 19:19, Deut 22:9), a practice
often associated with sustainable agriculture and organic farming in
modern agricultural science. The Mosaic code has provisions
concerning the conservation of natural resources, such as trees
(Deuteronomy 20:19-20) and birds (Deuteronomy 22:6-7).
Main article: Science and technology in Israel
See also: List of Israeli inventions and discoveries
Simulated view of a black hole.
Jacob Bekenstein predicted and
co-discovered black hole entropy
Israel is a developed and highly advanced country and ranks fifth
among the most innovative countries in the Bloomberg Innovation
Israel counts 140 scientists and technicians per 10,000
employees, one of the highest ratios in the world, and 8,337
full-time equivalent researchers per million inhabitants. It also
has one of the highest per capita rates of filed patents. Israel's
high technology industry has benefited from both the country's highly
educated and technologically skilled workforce coupled with the strong
presence of foreign high-tech firms and sophisticated research
Ofek-7 satellite launch through
During the 1970s and 1980s
Israel began developing the infrastructure
needed for research and development in space exploration and related
Israel launched its first satellite, Ofeq-1, from the
Shavit launch vehicle on September 19, 1988, and has
made important contributions in a number of areas in space research,
including laser communication, research into embryo development and
osteoporosis in space, pollution monitoring, and mapping geology, soil
and vegetation in semi-arid environments.
Israel is among the few
countries capable of launching satellites into orbit and locally
designed and manufactured satellites have been produced and launched
Israel Aerospace Industries(IAI), Israel's largest military
engineering company, in cooperation with the
Israel Space Agency. The
AMOS-1 geostationary satellite began operations in 1996 as Israel's
first commercial communications satellite. It was built primarily for
direct-to-home television broadcasting, TV distribution and VSAT
services. Further series of AMOS communications satellites (
AMOS 2 –
5i) are operated or in development by the
Communications company, which provides satellite telecommuncations
services to countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Israel also develops, manufactures, and exports a large number of
related aerospace products, including rockets and satellites, display
systems, aeronautical computers, instrumentation systems, drones and
flight simulators. Israel's second largest defense company is Elbit
Systems, which makes electro-optical systems for air, sea and ground
forces; drones; control and monitoring systems; communications systems
The growth in agricultural production is based on close cooperation of
scientists, farmers and agriculture-related industries and has
resulted in the development of advanced agricultural technology,
water-conserving irrigation methods, anaerobic digestion, greenhouse
technology, desert agriculture and salinity research. Israeli
companies also supply irrigation, water conservation and greenhouse
technologies and know-how to other countries. The modern
technology of drip irrigation was invented in
Israel by Simcha Blass
and his son Yeshayahu. Their first experimental system was established
in 1959 when company called
Netafim was established. They developed
and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter.
This method was very successful and had spread to Australia, North
America and South America by the late 1960s.
Intel core i7-940. Intel developed its dual-core
Core Duo processor at
Israel Development Center in Haifa.
Israeli companies excel in computer software and hardware development,
particularly computer security technologies, semiconductors and
communications. Israeli firms include Check Point, a leading firewall
firm; Amdocs, which makes business and operations support systems for
telecoms; Comverse, a voice-mail company; and Mercury Interactive,
which measures software performance. A high concentration of
high-tech industries in the coastal plain of
Israel has led to the
Silicon Wadi (lit: "Silicon Valley"). More than 3,850
start-ups have been established in Israel, making it second only to
the US in this sector and has the largest number of NASDAQ-listed
companies outside North America. Optics, electro-optics, and
lasers are significant fields and
Israel produces fiber-optics,
electro-optic inspection systems for printed circuit boards, thermal
imaging night-vision systems, and electro-optics-based robotic
manufacturing systems. Research into robotics first began in the
late 1970s, has resulted in the production of robots designed to
perform a wide variety of computer aided manufacturing tasks,
including diamond polishing, welding, packing, and building. Research
is also conducted in the application of artificial intelligence to
Israeli scientists contributed many inventions and discoveries in a
variety of fields including Joram Lindenstrauss
Abraham Fraenkel (Zermelo–Fraenkel
set theory); Shimshon Amitsur(Amitsur–Levitzki theorem); Saharon
Shelah (Sauer–Shelah lemma);
Elon Lindenstrauss (Ergodic theory);
Nathan Rosen (Wormhole);
Yuval Ne'eman (prediction of Quarks); Yakir
David Bohm (Aharonov–Bohm effect); Jacob Bekenstein
Black holes Entropy);
Dan Shechtman (discovery of
Avram Hershko and
Aaron Ciechanover (discovery of the
role of protein Ubiquitin);
Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt
(development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems); Ariel
Rubinstein (Rubinstein bargaining model); Abraham Fraenkel
(Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory);
Moussa B.H. Youdim
Moussa B.H. Youdim (Rasagiline);
Robert Aumann (Game theory);
Michael O. Rabin
Michael O. Rabin (Nondeterministic finite
Amir Pnueli (Temporal logic);
Judea Pearl (artificial
Shafi Goldwasser (Blum–Goldwasser cryptosystem);
Asher Peres (Quantum information);
Adi Shamir (RSA, Differential
cryptanalysis, Shamir's Secret Sharing);
Yaakov Ziv and Abraham Lempel
(Lempel–Ziv–Welch); Notable inventions include ReWalk, Given
Imaging, Eshkol-Wachman movement notation, Taliglucerase alfa, USB
flash drive, Intel 8088, Projection keyboard, TDMoIP, Mobileye, Waze,
Wix.com, Gett, Viber, Uzi, Iron Dome, Arrow missile, Super-iron
Michael O. Rabin
Tiles in the Bezalel style, 1920s
Main article: Visual arts in Israel
From the beginning of the 20th century, visual arts in
shown a creative orientation, influenced both by the West and East, as
well as by the land itself, its development, the character of the
cities, and stylistic trends emanating from art centers abroad. In
painting, sculpture, photography, and other art forms, the country's
varied landscape is the protagonist: the hill terraces and ridges
produce special dynamics of line and shape; the foothills of the
Negev, the prevailing grayish-green vegetation, and the clear luminous
light result in distinctive color effects; and the sea and sand affect
surfaces. On the whole, local landscapes, concerns, and politics lie
at the center of Israeli art, and ensure its uniqueness.
The earliest Israeli art movement was the
Bezalel school of the
Ottoman and early Mandate period, when artists portrayed both Biblical
Zionist subjects in a style influenced by the European Art Nouveau
movement, symbolism, and traditional Persian, Jewish, and Syrian
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, 2006
Main article: Music of Israel
Classical music in
Israel has been vibrant since the 1930s, when
hundreds of music teachers and students, composers, instrumentalists
and singers, as well as thousands of music lovers, streamed into the
country, driven by the threat of Nazism in Europe.
Israel is also home
to several world-class classical music ensembles, such as the Israel
Philharmonic and the New Israeli Opera. The founding of The Palestine
Philharmonic Orchestra (today the
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) in
1936 marked the beginning of Israel's classical music scene. In the
early 1980s, the
New Israeli Opera
New Israeli Opera began staging productions, reviving
public enthusiasm for operatic works. Russian immigration in the 1990s
boosted the classical music arena with new talents and music lovers.
The contemporary music scene in
Israel spans the spectrum of musical
genres, and often fuses many musical influences, ranging from
Ethiopian, Middle-Eastern soul, rock, jazz, hip-hop, electronic,
Arabic, pop and mainstream. Israeli music is versatile, and combines
elements of both western and eastern music. It tends to be very
eclectic, and contains a wide variety of influences from the Diaspora,
as well as more modern cultural importations:
Hassidic songs, Asian
pop, Arab folk (especially by Yemenite singers), and Israeli hip hop
or heavy metal. Also popular are various forms of electronic music,
including trance, Hard trance, and Goa trance. Notable artists from
Israel in this field are few, but include the psychedelic trance duo
Batsheva Dance Company
Batsheva Dance Company co-founded by
Martha Graham and Baroness
Batsheva De Rothschild in 1964
Main article: Dance in Israel
Traditional folk dances of
Israel include the Hora and dances
incorporating the Yemenite step.
Israeli folk dancing
Israeli folk dancing today is
choreographed for recreational and performance dance groups.
Modern dance in
Israel has won international acclaim. Israeli
choreographers, among them
Ohad Naharin and Barak Marshall, are
considered among the most versatile and original international
creators working today. Notable Israeli dance companies include the
Batsheva Dance Company, the
Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company,
the Inbal Pinto &
Avshalom Pollak Dance Company and the Kamea
Dance Company. People come from all over
Israel and many other nations
for the annual dance festival in Karmiel, held in July. First held in
Karmiel Dance Festival is the largest celebration of dance
in Israel, featuring three or four days and nights of dancing, with
5,000 or more dancers and a quarter of a million spectators in the
capital of Galilee. Begun as an Israeli folk dance event, the
festivities now include performances, workshops, and open dance
sessions for a variety of dance forms and nationalities.
Choreographer Yonatan Karmon created the
Karmiel Dance Festival to
continue the tradition of Gurit Kadman's Dalia Festival of Israeli
dance, which ended in the 1960s.
Famous companies and choreographers from all over the world have come
Israel to perform and give master classes. In July 2010, Mikhail
Baryshnikov came to perform in Israel.
Remains of the Roman theater in
During the Roman rule, some theaters were built in Judea, located in
places such as Caesarea,
Beth Shean and Jerusalem. The theater in
Caesarea Maritima was built by
Herod the Great
Herod the Great and had a seating
capacity of about 4000 seats in its final stage. Another theater,
in Bet Shean, was built in the end of the 2nd century CE with a
capacity of 7000 seats.
Habimah Theater in Tel Aviv
The emergence of
Hebrew theatre predated the state by nearly 50 years.
The first amateur
Hebrew theatre group was active in Palestine from
1904 to 1914. The first professional
Hebrew theatre, Habimah, was
founded in Moscow in 1917, and moved to Palestine in 1931, where it
became the country's national theatre. The
Ohel Theater was
founded in 1925 as a workers' theatre that explored socialist and
biblical themes. The first
Hebrew plays revolved around pioneering.
After 1948, two major motifs were the
Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli
conflict. Moshe Shamir's He Walked in the Fields in 1949 was the first
produced by a sabra writing about sabras in idiomatic and contemporary
Hebrew. In the 1950s, dramatists portrayed the gap between pre-state
dreams and disillusionment. Other plays pitted native
Holocaust survivors. Beginning in the 1960s,
Hanoch Levin wrote 56
plays and political satires. During the 1970s, Israeli theatre became
more critical, contrasting extreme images of Israeli identity, such as
the muscleman and the spiritual Jew. In the 1980s, Yehoshua Sobol
explored Israeli-Jewish identity issues. Today, Israeli theatre is
extremely diverse in content and style, and half of all plays are
Other major theatre companies include the Cameri Theatre, Beit Lessin
Gesher Theater (which performs in
Hebrew and Russian), Haifa
Founded in 1980, The
Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre
Acco Festival of Alternative Israeli Theatre is a
four-day performing arts festival held annually in early autumn at the
city of Acre. the festival became a symbol of coexistence between the
city's Jewish and Arab inhabitants.
Tel Aviv Cinematheque
Main article: Cinema of Israel
Israel has undergone major developments since its
inception in the 1950s. The first features produced and directed by
Israelis, such as "Hill 24 Doesn't Answer" and "They Were Ten",
Israeli literature of the period, to be cast in the
heroic mold. Some recent films remain deeply rooted in the Israeli
experience, dealing with such subjects as
Holocaust survivors and
their children (Gila Almagor's "The Summer of Aviya" and its sequel,
"Under the Domim Tree") and the travails of new immigrants ("Sh'hur",
directed by Hannah Azoulai and Shmuel Hasfari, "Late Marriage"
directed by Dover Koshashvili).
Others deal with issues of modern-day Israeli life, such as the
Israeli-Arab conflict (Eran Riklis's "The Lemon Tree", Scandar Copti
and Yaron Shani's "Ajami") and military service (Joseph Cedar's
"Beaufort", Samuel Maoz's "Lebanon", Eytan Fox's "Yossi and Jagger").
Some are set in the context of a universalist, alienated, and
hedonistic society (Eytan Fox's "A Siren's Song" and "The Bubble",
Ayelet Menahemi and Nirit Yaron's "
Tel Aviv Stories").
The Israeli film industry continues to gain worldwide recognition
through International awards nominations. For three years
consecutively, Israeli films ("Beaufort" (2008), "Waltz with Bashir"
(2009) and "Ajami" (2010)) were nominated for Academy Awards. The
Spielberg Film Archive at the
Hebrew University of
Jerusalem is the
world's largest repository of film material on Jewish themes as well
as on Jewish and Israeli life.
The main international film festivals in
Israel are the
Haifa Film Festival.
Shrine of the Book,
Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Main article: List of museums in Israel
With over 200 museums,
Israel has the highest number of museums per
capita in the world, with millions of visitors annually.
Israel Museum has a special pavilion showcasing the Dead
Sea scrolls and a large collection of Jewish religious art, Israeli
art, sculptures and Old Masters paintings. Newspapers appear in dozens
of languages, and every city and town publishes a local newsletter.
Grapes were important for the production of wine in ancient Israel.
Barley (right) was the grain most commonly used to make into flour for
bread in Iron Age Israel.
Main article: Ancient
Information about the food of the ancient Israelites is based on
written sources, archaeological records, and comparative evidence from
the wider region of the ancient Levant. Written sources are primarily
Hebrew Bible and other texts, such as the
Dead Sea Scrolls,
Apocryphal works, the New Testament, and Rabbinical literature.
The daily diet of the ordinary ancient
Israelite was mainly one of
bread, cooked grains and legumes. Bread was eaten with every meal.
Vegetables played a smaller, but significant role in the diet. The
Israelites drank goat and sheep’s milk when it was available in the
spring and summer, and ate butter and cheese. Figs and grapes were the
fruits most commonly eaten, while dates, pomegranates and other fruits
and nuts were eaten more occasionally. Wine was the most popular
beverage and sometimes other fermented beverages were produced. Olives
were used primarily for their oil. Meat, usually goat and mutton, was
eaten rarely and was reserved for special occasions such as
celebrations, festival meals or sacrificial feasts. Game, birds, eggs
and fish were also eaten, depending on availability.:22–24
Most food was eaten fresh and in season. Fruits and vegetables had to
be eaten as they ripened and before they spoiled. People had to
contend with periodic episodes of hunger and famine; producing enough
food required hard and well-timed labor, and the climatic conditions
resulted in unpredictable harvests and the need to store as much food
as possible. Thus, grapes were made into raisins and wine; olives were
made into oil; figs, beans and lentils were dried; and grains were
stored for use throughout the year. The diet was essentially
vegetarian. A typical daily meal is illustrated by the biblical
description of the rations that
Abigail brought to David’s group:
bread, wine, roasted grain, raisins and fig cakes (1 Samuel
Main article: Israeli cuisine
The heterogeneous nature of culture in
Israel is also manifested in
Israeli cuisine, a diverse combination of local ingredients and
dishes, with diasporic dishes from around the world. An Israeli
fusion cuisine has developed, with the adoption and continued adaption
of elements of various Jewish styles of cuisine including Mizrahi,
Sephardic, Yemeni Jewish and Ashkenazi, and many foods
traditionally eaten in the Middle East.
Israeli cuisine is
also influenced by geography, giving prominence to foods common in the
Mediterranean region such as olives, chickpeas, dairy products, fish,
and fresh fruits and vegetables. The main meal is usually lunch rather
than dinner. Jewish holidays influence the cuisine, with many
traditional foods served at holiday times. Shabbat dinner, eaten on
Friday night, is a significant meal in a large proportion of Israeli
homes. While not all
Israel keep kosher, the observance of
kashrut influences the menu in homes, public institutions and many
In 2013, an Israeli cookbook, "Seafoodpedia," won "Best in World" in
its category at the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in Paris, and
"Jerusalem, A Cookbook," published by the Israeli-Palestinian team of
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, won "Best in the World" for
Pastries in Jerusalem
Fava beans and Tahini
Israeli wine brands
Israeli beer (Goldstar and Maccabee)
Israeli eggplant salad
Main article: Israeli fashion
Israel has become an international center of fashion and design.
Tel Aviv has been called the “next hot destination” for
fashion. Israeli designers, such as swimwear company Gottex, show
their collections at leading fashion shows, including New York’s
Bryant Park fashion show. In 2011,
Tel Aviv hosted its first
Fashion Week since the 1980s, with Italian designer
Roberto Cavalli as
a guest of honor.
Gal Fridman, winner of Israel's first Olympic gold medal
Main article: Sports in Israel
Physical fitness received a boost in the 19th century from the
physical culture campaign of Max Nordau. The Maccabiah Games, an
Olympic-style event for Jewish athletes, was inaugurated in the 1930s,
and has been held in
Israel every four years since then.
Israel hosted and won the AFC Asian Cup; in 1970, the Israel
national football team managed to qualify to the FIFA World Cup, which
is still considered the biggest achievement in Israeli football.
Israel was excluded from the
1978 Asian Games
1978 Asian Games due to Arab pressure,
and since 1994 all Israeli sporting organizations now compete in
Football (soccer) and basketball are the most popular sports in
Israeli Premier League
Israeli Premier League is the country's Premier Soccer
League, and Ligat ha'Al is the premier basketball league. Maccabi
Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel
Tel Aviv and Beitar
Jerusalem are the
largest sports clubs. Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa, and Hapoel Tel
Aviv have competed in the UEFA Champions League, and Hapoel Tel Aviv
reached the Quarterfinal in the UEFA Cup. Maccabi
Tel Aviv B.C. has
European Championship in basketball six times. Israeli tennis
Shahar Pe'er peaked at 11th on the WTA rank list, a national
Beersheba has become a national chess center; as a result of
Soviet immigration, it is home to the largest number of chess
grandmasters of any city in the world. The city hosted the World Team
Chess Championship in 2005. Israeli chess teams won the silver medal
at the 2008
Chess Olympiad and the bronze medal at the 2010 Chess
Olympiad. Israeli Grandmaster
Boris Gelfand won the
Cup 2009, and played for the World Champion title in the World
Chess Championship 2012.
Israel has won seven Olympic medals since its first win in
1992, including a gold medal in windsurfing at the 2004 Summer
Israel has won over 100 gold medals in the Paralympic Games,
and is ranked about 15th in the All-time
Paralympic Games medal table.
1968 Summer Paralympics
1968 Summer Paralympics were hosted by Israel.
Tzofim Israeli scout movement fire ceremony in Tel Aviv
Youth movements were an important feature of
Israel from its earliest
days. In the 1950s, these movements were categorized in three groups:
Zionist youth groups promoting social ideals and the importance of
agricultural and communal settlement; working youth promoting
educational goals and occupational advancement; and recreational
groups with a strong emphasis on sports and leisure-time
Outdoor and vacation culture
Hiking near Lake Kinneret
Camping and hiking are an integral part of Israeli culture. National
parks and nature reserves across
Israel register some 6.5 million
visits a year. Schools and youth groups are taken on annual hiking
trips throughout the country, raising children with an affinity for
hiking and other outdoor activities. Consequently, many young Israelis
take several months to a year off to travel the world, primarily to
hike and experience the outdoors in remote, mountainous areas, such as
Nepal, India, China, Chile, and Peru.
Along the 190 kilometres (120 mi) of the Israeli Mediterranean
coast, two thirds are accessible to bathing activities.
Israel has 100
surf bathing beaches, guarded by professional lifeguards. Matkot
is a popular paddle ball game similar to beach tennis, often referred
to as the country's national sport.
Yemenite Jewish bride at her henna party, 1958
Main article: Marriage in Israel
All marriages between
Israel are registered with the Chief
Rabbinate, and the ceremony follows traditional Jewish practice.
Civil ceremonies are not performed in Israel, although a growing
number of secular couples circumvent this by traveling to nearby
locations such as Cyprus. While some
Israel have adopted
Western styles of dress, traditional clothing and jewelry are
sometimes brought out for pre-wedding rituals, including the Night of
the Henna that is very customary practice among
Israel Radio International, official radio service for immigrants and
listeners outside Israel
Kol Yisrael, Israel's public domestic and international radio station
List of Israeli musical artists
List of Israeli visual artists
Hebrew language poets
Hebrew language authors
List of Israeli actors
Hebrew language playwrights
Media of Israel
Science and technology in Israel
Religion in Israel
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^ Israeli wins best actress at Venice Film Festival
^ Another Israeli film awarded in Berlin
^ a b c d Focus on Israel: Language and Literature in Israel
^ Break dancing across the Green Line
^ a b c Marvin Perry (1 January 2012). Western Civilization: A Brief
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Judaism at Encyclopædia Britannica
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has been an all-important factor in the development of Western
Civilization; Judaism, as the precursor of Christianity, has
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western nations since the christian era.
Max I. Dimont
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Oxford University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-19-285343-1. the
biblical texts themselves are the result of a creative dialogue
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Talmud it is no longer in force.
^ "Commentary on Tractate Avot with an Introduction (Shemona
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ACUM - Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers in Israel
The Institute for the Translation of
Israel Music sdfgfte
Israeli Culture Ynetnews
Jewish and Israeli Culture, Eretz Acheret Magazine
Second Temple period
Sea of Galilee
Land of Israel
National parks and nature reserves
System of government
Israel Defense Forces
West Bank barrier
Science and technology
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
Water supply and sanitation
Standard of living
World Heritage Sites
Culture of Asia
East Timor (Timor-Leste)
United Arab Emirates
States with limited
British Indian Ocean Territory
Cocos (Keeling) Islan