Reflections on Israel Part II

Previously we posted some of our observations on how things are different here in Israel compared to life in Connecticut. Since that post, we have noticed a few additional things that we thought we would share. Remember, these are our observations only and are not to be interpreted as judgements. These differences don’t make Israel better than America or vice versa. We just think it is nice to share what we have noticed.

  • Police cars have their lights on all the time as they are driving around. If they want you to pull over, they will either use their siren or they will yell at you through a speaker system.
  • In the grocery store, there are no dividers at the checkout line. You need to pay attention so that your groceries don’t get put into the order for the person in front of you or that you pay for things from the person behind you.
  • There is no option of paper or plastic. There is only plastic.
  • There aren’t any designated bag people. You have to do it yourself. The only time someone will help you is if you are having what you purchased delivered. Then someone comes to put it in the bin for you.
  • You can go grocery shopping and then have it delivered. I’m not sure if that is just a city thing or an Israeli thing but its pretty cool that you can pick things out yourself but not have to figure out how to get it all home. It costs something but it can be convenient if you are buying a lot of food.
  • Grocery carts can move forward and backward as well as side-to-side. It is a bit difficult to maneuver them at first but after a bit, you get used to it.
  • To prevent cart theft, you must insert a 5 shekel piece into a contraption on the cart that releases it from the other carts. When you return the cart, you get your 5 shekel piece back. Amazingly you still see carts around the city…
  • Speaking of money, in Israel there are more coins than bills. The main money denomination is the shekel. Smaller than the shekel is the half shekel and the 10 agorot piece. The 10 agorot piece is worth 1/10 of a shekel so it is kind of like a dime. I think that there used to be other agorot coins but the only one in circulation is the 10 right now. Above the shekel in coins is the 2 shekel, the 5 shekel, and the 10 shekel. The 20 shekel, 50 shekel, 100 shekel, and 200 shekel are in bills.
  • When you purchase items in Israel, the tax is already included so the price you see is the price you pay. Sometimes the price is something like 7.63 shekel which drives me crazy since there isn’t anything smaller than 1/10 of a shekel. In the case of a price like this, you round to the nearest tenth.
  • Traffic lights go from red to yellow to green to yellow to red. The yellow basically tells you that the light is going to change.
  • Israelis aren’t always so specific about time. It is common that people show up a bit late and meetings don’t always start on time.
  • Israelis are impatient when it comes to driving. Despite the fact that they don’t worry about time so much, if you don’t start rolling when the traffic light turns from red to yellow then people will start honking their horns at you.
  • Smoking is everywhere here, although I heard it is better than how it used to be. At most outdoor restaurants, if you are bothered by someone smoking nearby, it is your responsibility to move since they have the right to smoke.
  • According to people we have met, candidates for Israeli elections are only allowed to advertise during the month before the elections. In addition, all TV ads are run during a designated hour and a half.
  • Election day is a day off for everyone so that everyone has an opportunity to vote. In Tel Aviv there is a 5k road race. Adam wanted to run in it, but it is too logistically complicated to get to Tel Aviv in time.
  • Sesame seeds are an important part of the Israeli diet. They appear in almost everything, including breadcrumbs.
  • Road kill is a very uncommon site. We think it is due to the fact that there are no squirrels in Israel, and cats just don’t seem to get hit by cars very much.
  • You have to be careful with elevators here. When you see one that you want to get on and the door is closing, your natural instinct is to put your arm or foot in the doorway so that it will stop closing. Unfortunately, for many elevators, the doors will continue to close. The ones in medical buildings seem to respond like they do at home, but the other ones don’t seem to have that sensor that stops the door, so watch out!

Once again, this is a small list of the many differences that exist between the US and Israel. We will probably post more of these reflections in the future. If there is anything in particular that you are interested in knowing about, please ask. We love to get comments! It helps us know that people are actually interested in this blog :).

Until next time…

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9 Responses to Reflections on Israel Part II

  1. Pingback: A Collection of Blog Posts | Hebrew Is for Israel, Mommy

  2. Aunt Terri says:

    Hi Alli, We have a supermarket called Aldi’s and if you want a cart you put a quarter in to release the carriage. Then you get the quarter back when you return the carriage by putting the lock in and
    it slips out.

  3. Naomi Bilmes says:

    Question: should I get a “Moadon” for any of the grocery stores I shop at? What are the pluses and minuses?

    • agamzon says:

      A moadon, as far as I can tell, is just a store credit card with some savings incentives attached to using it. There is a monthly fee if you don’t use it enough, but we did the calculation and it seemed that we would save by getting one. Unfortunately, we tried to do it at mega, where we shop the most, but they said that a passport is not enough for them. You could try other stores.

  4. Naomi Bilmes says:

    Relating to the smoking: our neighbors who live across the hall like to put a chair in the hallway, sit out there, and smoke. This gives a wonderful smell to the stairway, in addition to an undoubtedly spectacular air quality. Luckily, the smoke doesn’t get under our door too much.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A few pointers:
    You can ask for a divider in the grocery store. Most people don’t, but if you want to avoid confusing your stuff with someone else’s stuff you can ask for it.

    When we were living in CT, I hated the fact that the prices I saw listed in the store were not the ones I would ultimately pay. I much prefer the tax being included on the price tag…

    Regarding elevators, most elevators do have a sensor to stop the door from closing, but it is usually a contact sensor, not a “presence” sensor. Thus, if you are brave enough to let the elevator door touch your arm/leg, it will usually re-open.

    Election day is a day off because the elections take place at schools – that is where the boxes where you place your ballots are placed. Once you need to shut down schools (for security reasons), you also need to give the parents the day off…

    • agamzon says:

      I guess the dividers in the grocery stores must be hidden out of sight…and by the time I get up to the cashier, it’s a little too late to ask for one.

      We also like that the tax is already included in the price. The thing that bothers Alli is that prices are listed down to the hundredth of a shekel, while the smallest denomination is a tenth of a shekel.

      I’m glad to hear that elevators generally have this safety feature. We heard one story from a friend who described having his arm caught in the elevator as it started to go up.

      I disagree with the last point, although it makes sense. In Connecticut, for example, public schools are closed for elections but everyone else still has work.

  6. pghsocrates says:

    Hey, it’s Abby.
    This list made me laugh because I noticed all the same things! Here’s my take on some of them:
    -I have seen dividers in the checkout line…but people don’t use them anyway.
    -I was at discount supermarket and put my five shekels in the cart. When I went to return the cart, there were no carts available for me to lock my cart onto them and get my money back. The store wasn’t very crowded…so where were all the carts??? A few were in the store, blocking the aisles in the checkout area. As for the rest, no clue.
    -Today because of elections we went on a great tiyul to the Golan. It was crowded and it was clear that going hiking is a major form of recreation for Israelis, unlike Americans. Rafi was a terrific sport and walked for miles. In a year he will be a mountain goat!
    -Smoking is definitely better than it used to be. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I was here twelve years ago, and I think there was more smoking then.
    -Jeff pulls over for police with their lights on, out of force of habit, and it really confuses people.

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