21 things that only make sense to Israelis

Written by
Jennifer Greenberg
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Israelis: we're an interesting bunch. From redefining the work week to an absurd number of cats and everything in between, we like to play by our own rules here. However, when you reside in a pita-loving, fitness-obsessed country that's on the verge of melting about 10 months of the year, it's only natural to develop some universal quirks, habits, lingo & fashion statements that only make sense in Israel. For better or for worse, here are 21 things that only make sense to Israelis.

1. Calling a lake a 'sea.' Yes, there’s sand on the lakefront, yes we call it the "Dead Sea," yes it's super salty, but no, it is not a sea.

2. Bargaining in shopping malls. Nothing in Israeli life is fixed, especially prices. Bargaining takes places everywhere, even in  your local Castro.

3. Sunday-Thursday work weeks. That's right! Throwback Thursdays now give you a reason to sport those bell bottom jeans to work.

4. 1+1. A mathematical equation that always = Happy Hour.

5. Crack Toast. a) it doesn't contain crack, b) "toast" means grilled cheese in Israel, and c) it's delicious, just eat it.

6. Walking on Jabotinsky/Dizengoff/Rothschild/King George. Streets are people, too.

7. Whatsapp voice messages. Why text when you can share your latest date fail with the entire bus?

8. Chasers. While the rest of the world understands chasers as juice or beer to "chase" their shot, Israelis go hard or go home – their chasers are the shots.

9. Tahina is the only necessary condiment. Who needs ketchup, when you've got God's gift to the pita.

10. Wearing boots in the middle of summer. They're comfortable, ok?

11. Wearing boots in the middle of a club. They're fashionable, ok?

12. Waiting at the crosswalk is more of a suggestion than a law. Thanks for the tip Mr. Red Walking Man, but I’m going to keep walking.

13. Post-dinner hygiene. Expect any waiter to slam down a cup of hand wipes and toothpicks the minute you're 3/4 done your meal. It's their polite way of saying "clean up and get the fuck out."

14. ...But don't forget to tip 10%. It's not suggested, it's non-negotiable.

15. Why someone would ever willingly take a "chaser" of Arak. It's just a thing. 

16. Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Available in any hotel room, on loop. Also, Geordie Shore marathons.

17. The coffee cult. Here, coffee is a religious sect, not a drink.

18. There's no correct way to spell "Channukah." When it comes to Hebrew translations, anything goes.

19. I am not a number, I am a man! Memorize your Israeli I.D. (Teudat Zehut), you'll need it for tickets, clubs, movies, bars, banks, and access to bus station bathrooms.

20. Jewish geography. Double-check before you go home with him that he's not your best friend's cousin's ex.

21. Arik Einstein. That is all.

Still confused? Check out 17 signs you're a true Tel Avivian.

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