A fairly new nation in an ancient land is Israel. The modern nation has two distinct nationalities, the Palestinians and the Jewish population. In reviewing Israel genealogy, it is seen each nationality is inextricable from its religious identity. For the Palestinians, being Arabs, their traditions are founded in the Islamic-Muslim culture. For the Jews their culture is also centered around their religion of Judaism. The land of Israel is in the Middle East, along the Mediterranean Sea and bordered by other Arab – Islamic nations.
Eighty percent of the population of 7.6 million are of the Jewish religion. Of that number most were born in other regions, like Europe and America, important in studying Israel genealogy. The official language is Hebrew. Arabic is the official language of the Arab minority. English is studied in school and is the most commonly spoken foreign language. Immigrants from various countries also bring their languages with them. Spanish, Italian, African dialects and especially Russian are often spoken in Israel.
The Jews of Israel are tough, emotionally hardened and ruthless. Those termed “sabra” refer to those Jewish individuals born in Israel. In popular Israeli folklore, the Jews of Israel are “thorny and tough on the outside, but soft inside.” They have had to be tough due to the years of war to get and hold on to the Israeli lands. Between the Jews and Palestinians, each side see the other as the aggressor.
Their pride comes from observation of religious rituals. Yet, there are conflicts between Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews. There are also differences with the Orthodox Jews and Reform or Conservative Jews, because these more liberal branches do not strictly follow all the religious laws set by the Orthodox branch.
Jews are bound by a set of dietary laws called kashrus. It forbids the consumption of pork and shellfish, as well as the consumption of both meat and milk products at the same meal. Not all Israelis observe these rules. In nearly all Jewish celebrations, food is a vital aspect. The Sabbath, observed on Saturday, is ushered in on Friday evening with a family meal including an egg bread called challah. At the Jewish New Year the challah is baked in a circle, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life.
Israelis are very informal in social interactions, especially using touching and eye contact with others. Family is very important. The nuclear family is the basic form, but grandparents are also included in the living arrangements of the family.
All Israelis serve in the military for a number of years, including women. The exemption would be Arab citizens of Israel. Some of the Arabs of Israel are Christian, about 9 percent. About 1.3 million Arabs live in Israel.
With Jews having moved to Israel from all over the world, there is a variety of Jewish customs practiced. In smaller numbers there are Christians, Buddhists and Hindus in Israel.