How can fertile soil be created in the middle of a desert? Can women be drafted into the army? How can Jews, Muslims and Christians live together side by side? What aspects are there regarding Muslim women’s clothing? What is hummus and falafel? How can all of these be linked to a small Middle Eastern country, Israel? Find out from our article below!
- Religious diversity and tolerance
We might call Israel a “cultural melting pot” where Jews (ca. 75%), Muslims (ca. 12%) and Christians (ca. 2%) live together side by side. There are also many minorities such as Samaritans, Armenians, Orthodox and Druze. Furthermore, as it was mentioned in my previous article, Haifa is the religious centre of the Bahá’í faith.
There is no typical Israeli cuisine, it is as diverse as their culture. The most characteristic dishes are falafel, usually served with salad, and hummus in freshly baked pita. If we are in the Old City of Jaffa it is worth trying the hummus at Abu Hassan, as many say it is the most delicious hummus in the whole country. Not only the traditional, but the famous spicy version (msabbaha) is worth trying as well! Beloved by many tourists, the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv is rightly one of the most frequented and crowded markets in the city, where all the local food can be tried out.
Hummus. (source: https://www.cookingclassy.com/hummus/)
- Agricultural secrets of the Middle East
They grow plenty of fruits and vegetables in Israel such as apple, strawberry, papaya or kiwi just to name a few. Research and development are important as well: they have developed many new techniques and technologies to make agriculture more efficient, like drip irrigation, a system that allows water to slowly drip to the roots of the plants. Another great accomplishment of the country is that they recycle more than 80% of their water. After purification this water can be used on the fields and in agriculture in general. Thanks to the innovations of Groundwork BioAg, a company based there, they use significantly less fertiliser. They use special kinds of fungi which help plants absorb more water and nutrients from the soil. As the population on Earth is growing rapidly we will need even more food and water, thus these innovations will play an even more important role in the future.
Dragonfruit. (source: https://fuveszblog.cafeblog.hu/2012/03/20/sarkanygyumolcs-vagy-pitaja/)
- Military conscription
The first thing I realised after my arrival was that there are so many young men and women, probably around 18 or 19 years of age, in military uniforms with firearms. Every man has to serve in the military for 32 months, this time is slightly less for women. It is fair to say that conscription into the army for women is almost exclusive to this region of the world. Therefore, the army plays an important role in socialisation, many people find life-long friends there. They consider conscription so important that in some cases they won’t even consider you for a given job is you haven’t been drafted.
- Dining habits among the Jews
According to Jewish tradition and religion you can call a meat Kosher if in the Torah (the sacred script in Jewish religion) it is listed as such. They consider two things: whether the animal has cloven hooves and whether they are ruminants (such animals are for example: goat, cattle or sheep). If both are true, then the meat of that animal can be considered Kosher or it can be deemed ritually clean and edible. It is forbidden to consume blood and meat of those animals which were not slaughtered according to Jewish law. These laws also require meat and milk products to be separated, so in orthodox Jewish households they use different plates and pots to store these. Therefore, it is written on every food whether if it is Kosher or not, e.g. you can choose between Kosher and non-Kosher McDonald’s.
Abu Hassan Restaurant. (source: https://www.happycow.net/reviews/abu-hassan-tel-aviv-47887)
- Dressing habits in Muslim tradition
It is of utmost importance in Muslim tradition to keep up the appearance of modesty, decency and purity. These rules must be kept by everyone, even tourists, especially when visiting religious sites.
Muslim women who wear scarves are “confessing” in public. Anyone who sees such a woman knows that she is Muslim, she has high moral standards, and that she doesn’t wish to attract men’s attention.
Religious practises don’t state what a woman should very exactly, but there are certain requirements. Firstly, all of her body must be covered including her chest, neck and hair. Secondly, the clothes must be loose enough that her body and shape cannot be seen. The material also must be thick enough so that it’s never transparent. It should be well-kept and modest, being fancy enough to attract attention is also against the rules.
In conclusion, we can say that these regulations don’t reflect suppression, rather it emphasises freedom. It shows her morals as a Muslim and distinguishes her from non-Muslims. She mustn’t show her beauty to the public, only to her husband. They can wear jewellery, makeup and perfumes, although only at the right place.
Source of the cover photo: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/articles/must-visit-spots-tel-aviv-markets