Faux pas and lapses in etiquette are inevitable when visiting a foreign country, and even the most moderate expectations can leave us disappointed when we’re confronted with the reality that is not laid out in guidebooks. The list of things to avoid doing when visiting Israel is just as long as any possible list of recommendations, but the following are a few warnings and suggestions for visitors to the country.
Patience is your watchword
Don’t take offense at the sometimes brusque and seemingly rude demeanor of many Israelis. It is not uncommon for locals to cut in line if their order or request is a quick one, and punctuality tends be pretty low on their list of priorities (in other words, be prepared to wait around a bit when making appointments).
Don’t be picky
Dining etiquette in the country is generally relaxed and much more European than Middle Eastern (particularly in tourist restaurants), but it is considered good manners to sample at least a little bit of everything offered at a sit down meal. Take care not to offend your host by turning your nose up at some side dish or course that doesn’t immediately appeal to you.
In attempting a journey along the Via Dolorosa (the Stations of the Cross) in Jerusalem, it is important to keep in mind that the route Jesus supposedly took as he struggled under the weight of his cross is often clogged with tourists, pilgrims, street venders, monks, nuns and other local residents. It pays to do a little advance research and pick a day and time that will best suit your travel goals, whether they involve a search for spiritual solace, a glimpse of spectacle or some combination of the two.