From an ethnic perspective, you are bound to be surprised by the diversity of people you meet in Israel. We love getting to know a wide range of people through home visits - whether you'd like to share a delicious Druze meal in the North of Israel, understand the complexities of the Christian Arab identity, visit a generations old Muslim Arab village, or share a family Shabbat meal in a traditional Jewish setting, we are delighted to introduce you to our local friends.

The majority (75%) of the population in Israel may be Jewish, but it is far from homogenous. Ultra-orthodox Jews make up around 10% of Israel’s population. They maintain ancient traditions and have limited interaction with modern society.  Beyond the religious – secular divide, it is important to remember that Jews have come to Israel from the four corners of the earth, bringing with them traditions from across the globe.  As such, Jews you meet from e.g. Ethiopia, Yemen, Argentina and Russia will all look very different, and carry their own stories and rituals.

As part of a trip to Jerusalem, perhaps you would like to join an Orthodox families for a traditional Shabbat Friday night dinner?  Or take a market food tours to enjoy cuisine from different Jewish ethnic backgrounds. Many of the traders have imported products from their home countries since arriving in Israel, and their stories are often fascinating- for example spice traders bringing products from India, borekas makers who serve the traditional Turkish recipes, Iranian Jews still bringing dried fruits from Persia (don’t ask how!).

Arabs comprise the second largest group in Israel, making up 20% of the population. Within this section of the population you will find Bedouin, Druze, Bahai, Christians and Muslims.  Each of these groups has its own fascinating story and way of life, and we highly recommend getting an insiders view by visiting the homes of various Israelis.

For example, visiting our Druze family in the Galilee is fascinating and somewhat sobering as your host recounts family stories not just from Israel but the wider region including Syria.  Our visits with Christian Arab families are eye opening as regards this complex identity, whilst our visits with Muslim Arab families are crucial for understanding the conflicting histories and unresolved issues within Israeli society.

Jack and I will forever have the amazing memories of Israel, it’s people, history, religions, sites, food, wines, scenery, the list goes on! What A beautiful and amazing country!

KerryAnn A, New York

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