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Regular version of the site

Culture Café: Israel

Israel is a very young country, just 70 years old, but with a very rich history, going all the way back to Biblical times. Of course, all of that is hard to put into a three-hour presentation but HSE Jews Club together with our Israeli students tried to do just that on our last Culture Café dedicated to Israel. And right now, we would try to pass on at least parts of all that information off to you.

The history of Israel is long and complicated, and you probably know some of it from your history lessons. So, we won’t be diving into that, but instead talk about the present day of the country. What today’s Israel has to offer? As it turned out, a lot.



Firstly, we can talk a little bit about the geography. Even though, most of the land in Israel is desert, there are four different seas: the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee. The Dead Sea is a sea only by a name. It is actually a lake and is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth at that. Not the best place for swimming, but you can consider visiting it for a relaxing time with book – you would be able to stay afloat without wetting a pages one bit. Speaking of books, did you know that Israel is the second country in the book publishing behind Russia?




This tiny country is the only democracy in the Middle East, the country of contrasts where people from all over the world came to live. Almost 80% of those people are Jewish, but the country is also a home to Muslims, Christians, non-believers and many more. Universe House of Justice of Bahá'í religion is located in Haifa, which is considered to be the most multi-ethic city in the Israel.

What about the languages? Well, the official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic. Hebrew is one of the oldest languages in the world but, despite that, it didn't change much over the years. So much so, that if the person from present day Israel met his ancestor from 2000 years ago, they would be able to have a decent dialog. But learning Hebrew can be a difficult task, especially because the written language is read from right to the left and does not have vowels, which makes reading it very hard.

Modern Israel is indeed modern, with urban cities like Tel-Aviv being the vegan capital of the world, for example. And the country is not a stranger to new technologies. In fact, Israel is a startup country. It has the highest proportion of startups per person outside of Silicon Valley. And you would probably be surprised how many companies that you know and apps that you use daily are from Israel. Our presenters ever played a little game with our guests where they had to determine if the company is Israeli or not. Turns out, WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat, Gett, CoFix and many-many more companies are Israeli. 



Also, do you think these facts below are true or false?

-         Israel was the first country to ban commercials starring underweight models   

-         Israel has no constitution

-         Israel has the biggest dog cemetery in the world

-         USB was invented in Israel

What do you think? It is all true! 



We learned a lot about Israel in the span of just three hours. And ended an evening on a highest note possible – with a master-class on how to make tahini, which we all shared afterwards with some delicious pitas.  

Happy Hanukkah!

Text: Evgenia Senkina