Recently, I had the opportunity to take a trip to Israel for a family wedding. While this was my fourth trip since 1979, I always find new and exciting perspectives.
Upon arrival at the airpoint, you begin to see the different types of backgrounds-Turkish tour groups,Missionary tours,Religious Jews, Arabs and many others.
I find it very refreshing to see everyone co-existing and acknowledging each other.
For those from the United States, our lack of learning other languages is not a major problem, as over half of the residents speak some to quite abit of English.
While in the Old City of Jerusalem,we encountered Armenians, Arabs and Israeli Jews. You feel very safe dealing with any gift shop owner, no matter their nationality. The shopkeepers are just trying to make a living and sometimes their means are not what visitors are used to. The only thing is trying to master the various cultures as not to offend or become involved in uncomfortable situations.
One interesting tidbit is that there is an upscale outdoor mall located 120 yards (375 meters) from one of the gates to the Old City; old butting up against new-sad and refreshing all at the same time for many tourists.
This is a country that is constantly building modern structures as the population increases. New roads and housing keep this small country thriving.
When attending the outdoor wedding and inside reception, there were friends of the families dressed casual to dressed up-everyone just seemed to fit in. What I enjoyed during this time and during large Sabbath meals with the 2 families at a synagogue was seeing the Sephardic(Spanish and Middle Eastern) Jewish customs of the one side mingling with the Ashkenazi(Eastern European)Jewish ways of the other family. Much respect and sharing took place.
It was a melting pot of heritages there: Israeli, Persian, Moroccan, American, British,Russian and others at these meals.
The cuisine is usually fresh fruit, yogurt and salads in the morning. Meat or chicken in the evenings and, of course, falafel at lunch or dinner.
While we hear of violence and safety issues in the area and region in the media, almost everyone has little to fear as they travel as long as you use common sense and avoid situations you would when traveling or living in any major city.
I sure I will be back to enjoy another aspect of this amazing country to see more of the sites and enjoy the diverse culture.
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