Culture refers to the knowledge and characteristics of a specific group of people including aspects like arts, food, clothing, language, social habits, religion, and cuisine. It is also known as the shared patterns of interactions and behaviors, cognitive understanding and constructs that an individual or group of people acquire through socialization (Baldwin et al., 2006). Therefore it can be viewed as the development of an identity by a group encouraged and developed by social patterns that are specific to the group. Culture also involves the food that a group of people identifies with, what they wear, how they wear it, the language they associate with, their music, marriage, what these people believe to be right or wrong, how they sit around the table, how the greet their visitors how they treat and behave with loved ones and many other unique characteristics that define the group (Baldwin et al., 2006).
It is admittedly evident that there are numerous cultures across the world, which have their unique characteristics (Baldwin et al., 2006). However these cultures often share five standard characteristics, which are that they are all dynamic, they are integrated, they are shared, they are based on symbols, and they are learned. Culture is learned through different avenues including peoples families, neighborhoods, in school, through peers and media. However, other aspects of learning culture are often subconscious (Harrison & Huntington, 2000). For example, a person can learn in school that Christmas is in December. However, he or she will learn about being in the Christmas spirit without engaging in any form of conversation. Culture is identified as a social construct for instance for one to learn a language he or she needs to interact with other people. It, therefore, makes culture shared. All cultures will use symbols to pass different messages from one individual to the other. These symbols may not maintain the same meaning from one culture to the next. Culture is also integrated into that all its different aspects are interconnected. It means that for one to understand one aspect, he or she needs to be aware of the all the other aspects. Culture is also dynamic meaning that all the cultures across the world interact and therefore will change (Harrison & Huntington, 2000). It is why different cultures can adapt to different environments.
Israel is a country located in the Middle East that borders the Mediterranean sea, Lebanon, and Egypt. The countrys complex terrain is made up of four general areas that include the Negev desert, which makes up close to half of the area in Israel and the Jordan rift valley whose lowest point is registered at three hundred and ninety-nine meters below the sea level (Clarfield et al., 2000). It is also made up of the central highlands that include the Judean Hills in the south, which are mainly arid, and the Hills of Galilee in the north with Israels highest elevation point at Mt. Meron at one thousand two hundred and eight meters. The other area in Israel is coastal plain, which stretches across the Mediterranean sea and is often highly populated, fertile and humid (Clarfield et al., 2000).
Up to ninety-two percent of the people of Israel live in its urban areas. The countrys modern and urban cities, towns involving a blend of the old, new towns, and cities are constructed on sites identified since the ancient past. These include Akko, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, Tiberias and Safed.there are other towns and cities that started as agricultural villages during the pre-state era and eventually turned into areas with major populations (Clarfield et al., 2000). These include Hadera, Rehovot, Rishon Lezion and Petah Tikva. The country also focused on drawing people to previously unpopulated areas especially during the early years of its construction. These were mainly development towns that included Kiryat Gat and Karmiel which functioned as accommodation areas for the countrys population that was growing rapidly due to mass immigration. Such efforts also helped in the development of a closely interlocked rural and urban economy in Israel (Clarfield et al., 2000).
Trucks, cars, and buses are the main modes of transportation in Israel. The country has recently worked on the improvement of its road network to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of vehicles and to ensure that the remote communities are easily accessible. Israel has also developed its railway network that runs through Dimona, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, and Nahariya. It also adopts freight services in the south of Dimona, the city of Ashkelon and the port of Ashdod (Shindler, 2013). The country also has developed seaports with modern deep water harbors including Eliat, Haifa, and Ashdod being constructed to replace ancient ports of Acre (Akko), Caesarea, and Jaffa (Yafo). Satellite link-ups and underwater fiber-optic lines ensure that Israel is connected and fully integrated into the global communication systems including academic data networks, financial networks and major global commercial networks (Shindler, 2013). It also has state-of-the-art services for its telephone subscribers because Israel is one of the first countries in the world to have one hundred percent of its telephone services network digitalized.
The country has also had numerous conflicts with its neighbors including its war for independence where the country fought Arab armies that invaded it. In turn, the country gained seventy-five percent of what of then known as Palestine making up to six hundred thousand Arabs flee to neighboring countries as refugees. The six-day-war occurred between 5th to 10th June 1967 where Israel attacked Syria, Jordan, and Egypt and eventually tripling its land and gaining control of the Gaza. The fighting between Israel and Egypt occurred between 1967 and 1970 where Egypt armies wanted Israel troops to leave the Suez Canal. Eventually, the two countries agreed to a cease-fire for three months, and the war ended in 1970 (Shindler, 2013).
Israel is mainly sunny with its climate ranging from temperate to tropical. It has two predominant seasons, the dry summer experienced between June and October, and the rainy winter period, which occurs between November and May. Israel experiences negligible amounts of rain in the southern areas, relatively heavy rainfall in the north and center of the country and less rainfall in the northern Negev. The various regions in Israel have varied weather conditions where the coast experiences humid summers and mild winters while the hill regions including Jerusalem are experiencing moderately cold winters and dry summers. The Jordan Valley often has pleasant winters and hot, dry summers while the Negev experiences year round semi desert conditions. Various regions engage in farming including the moshav, which is a settlement for families with farms. The area supplies a significant amount of the agricultural produce in Israel. The semi-arid nature of the region has pushed in a significant amount of its inhabitants, at ninety-two percent into urban areas where they engage in industrialization. It means that I critical amount of Israels environment is affected by pollution with a lot of the industrial waste being released into the Mediterranean Sea and the rivers.
Israel is mainly made up of the Jewish community. They trace their origin to Abraham from the bible who developed the belief that there is only one God who is also the creator of the universe. The Israel community recognizes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as their patriarchs and that they lived in the land of Canaan which later came to be known as Israel. The country has Hebrew and Arabic as its main languages. However, there are over eighty-three languages spoken by its citizens. The country ranks among the most educated in the world after being named second by the organization for economic cooperation and Development's education. Forty-five percent of its population is educated with seventy-eight percent of the funding for education being through public funds. The country boasts of various world-class ensembles in classical music including the new Israeli opera and the Israel Philharmonic. It has also had vibrant classical music since the 1930s due to the high number of music teachers, students singers, music lover and instrumentalists who streamed into the country to escape Nazism. The country also has traditional folk dances that include the Hora, which is currently choreographed for recreational, and performance functions. Israel also experiences numerous annual visitors for its over two hundred museums. It also has the highest number of museums per capita globally.
Israel also has unique cuisine due to the diversity of its culture. The citizens develop their cuisine through the combination of local ingredients and other dishes from across the world. Its cuisine includes numerous Jewish styles including Ashkenazi, Mizrahi Yemeni Jewish, and Sephardic. Its cuisine is also influenced by geography and therefore includes numerous Mediterranean foods such as vegetables, fruits, olives, fish, chickpeas, and dairy products (Regev & Seroussi, 2004). The countrys main meal is often lunch and not dinner like other regions in the world. A significant amount of its cuisine is also made of the meals served during the holidays like Shabbat dinner, Kosher and kashrut. The country is also an influential player in the fashion industry with Tel Aviv rising as one of the next destinations for fashion. Israel also engages in sports with the Maccabiah Games being launched in the 1930s and is often held in the country every four years. It also has numerous nature reserves and national parks, which experiences over six million visitors every year (Regev & Seroussi, 2004). Despite the adoption of western cultures for weddings, the people of Israel often adopt its traditional dressing styles, jewelry, and traditional clothing, especially for pre-weddings. They also engage in the night of Henna, which is a wedding practice among the Mizrahi Jews.
It is evident that Israel is a country rich in culture and other traditional practices. Numerous factors including its geography, food, dressing and other factors contributed to the rich culture of the country. It is globally known as a country that has kept its religious roots and even when in other regions, the Jews practice their traditions and religion. It also stands out as a significant destination for tourists with much interested in the well-preserved religious architecture and sites. It is, therefore, necessary that the country remains as culturally knit as it is.
Baldwin, J. R., Faulkner, S. L., Hecht, M. L., & Lindsley, S. L. (Eds.). (2006). Redefining culture: Perspectives across the disciplines. Routledge.
Clarfield, A. M., Paltiel, A., Gindin, Y., Morginstin, B., & Dwolatzky, T. (2000). Country profile: Israel. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 48(8), 980-984.
Harrison, L. E., & Huntington, S. P. (2000). Culture matters: How values shape human progress. Basic books.
Regev, M., & Seroussi, E. (2004). Popular music and national culture in Israel. Univ of California Press.
Shindler, C. (2013). A history of modern Israel. Cambridge University Press.
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