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Lesson Transcript

Shira: Welcome back to HebewPod101.com, the All About Hebrew Series. This is All About Lesson 8 – Top Five Things you need to know about Israeli society. I'm your host, Shira.
Amir: And I'm Amir. [שלום] (Sha'lom) again.
Shira: Today we're going to tell you more about life in Israel. We have our Israeli expert, Amir, here and our foreign Israeli expert, me.
Amir: Now, Israel is such a diverse country that there are many different aspects to society.
Shira: Yes. So it's difficult to know where to begin.
Amir: Well, why don't we start with city life, Shira?
Shira: Yeah, after all most of what you and I know is life in the city.
Amir: Well, most of the population of Israel lives in the major cities.
Shira: Each city had its own personality and the people who live in the cities are very proud of their own city.
Amir: So let's get started with the most famous city in Israel.
Shira: Jerusalem.
Amir: Of course, Jerusalem. It's a city full of contrasts and very representative of the cultural variety in Israeli society.
Shira: Its residents range from [חסידי] (Kha'sidi) Jews to devout Muslims, from Christian priests to Secular Israelis.
Amir: It's also the capital of Israel and the largest city in Israel in terms of population.
Shira: In fact, there are over 700,000 inhabitants in Jerusalem proper. It's on the eastern side in Israel and borders the west bank.
Amir: Jerusalem is a holy city for at least three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Shira: Jerusalem has many, many historical and religious sites that are popular for tourists.
Amir: One of the most popular sites is the Wailing Wall. It's a remnant of the temple and a holy place for Jewish people.
Shira: Yes, it's a place of constant prayer.
Amir: Popular Christian sites are the Garden Tomb and the Mountain of Olives.
Shira: There are many holy sites for Christians and many old churches within the old city.
Amir: And for Muslims, there's the dome of the Rock.
Shira: You know I've never been able to get into the Dome of the Rock. Every time I go it's closed for prayer or closed to visitors for the day.
Amir: It's rather beautiful. It's a pity you missed it. But it's also a hotly disputed area. There are many debates about whom the site really belongs to since it was built over the temple [אבן השתייה] (Even ha'shti'ya).
Shira: I heard that many people believe that it was built on a site, on the exact site, where the holy of holies in the temple was.
Amir: Exactly. And that's why there's such heated arguments about it.
Shira: Even if you aren't interested in all the religious sites, Jerusalem is a beautiful city and full of many historical sites.
Amir: It's definitely worth a visit, but for now let's go to our next city.
Shira: Ok, well we can't leave out Telaviv.
Amir: Of course, Telaviv is the second largest city in Israel. It was built as the first Jewish city in Palestine way back in the 1900s.
Shira: And it is the capital of Israeli shopping and sunbathing, I think.
Amir: Telaviv is a very modern city with lots of things to offer. It's right on the beach, so many telavivians can walk right out of their apartments onto the beach.
Shira: Plus, Telaviv is the fashion capital of Israel. If you're into shopping, just take a walk down [בן יהודה] (Ben Ye'hu'da) street and you'll find lots of fun, little shops.
Amir: Telaviv also shares the nickname "the city that never sleeps" with a few other cities, most notable of which is New York.
Shira: Yeah, there's always something happening in Telaviv. There are plenty of night clubs and bars and beach cafés to visit at any hour of the day or night.
Amir: Telaviv has a different character from other Israeli cities because it has so many people from other places in the world.
Shira: True. Foreign workers tend to live in Telaviv more than any other city. You can find people from South-East Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa all over the city. Many of them find work caring for the elderly or cleaning houses.
Amir: One of the most amazing things about Telaviv is its modern architecture.
Shira: Right. There are many good examples of art deco and Bauhaus architecture throughout Telaviv.
Amir: So if you want to visit a more modern city, Telaviv is the place to go.
Shira: Let's move on to talk about family life in Israeli society. I find that families in Israel are generally still quite traditional and the family is the focal point of life.
Amir: It's true. Most of our holidays center around family gatherings and meals. Israel is so small that it's hard to move very far away from your family, and most people will travel home every holiday.
Shira: Young adults will usually live with their parents until they've finished the army and university.
Amir: And then they get married and have a child, the parents are often close enough to help them with the baby sitting.
Shira: So even though Israel is a very modern society, traditional family values are still very strong.
Amir: For example, Israeli families tend to be larger than European or North American ones. They generally consist of about two to three children. On the other hand, religious Jewish families or Arab families have many more children than that.
Shira: What I find very differ net from other countries is that marriage is strictly a religious affairs.
Amir: Yes, Israel is surprisingly strict in this. People are married by the religious institutions and the Jewish religious authority won't allow inter-marriage.
Shira: An example of this would be if a Jewish person wanted to marry a non-Jewish person. He or she would either have to leave the country to marry or the non-Jewish person would have to convert to Judaism.
Amir: I guess this sounds pretty strange to some people, but to us it seems normal.
Shira: We should move on to our next topic, the Israeli economy.
Amir: Yeah. Israel is considered to be one of the most advanced countries in South-West Asia as far as economic and industrial development is concerned.
Shira: Yes. Thanks to our water crisis and all that sun.
Amir: What you mean, Shira, is our ability to develop technologies out of our obstacles.
Shira: That's exactly what I mean. Israel crated a drip irrigation system to save water since we have a water shortage. We use this system in public and private gardens and with crops as well.
Amir: We've also had other great innovations in teh high tech field.
Shira: Israelis are great workers and love to come up with new innovations.
Amir: On the other hand, Israelis are not always the easiest to work with. You know, as Israelis, we love to speak our minds and give our opinions.
Shira: In work and in life in general.
Amir: While the upside of this is that Israelis are good at taking initiative and they don't have to check with their boss every time a new details pops up in a project. They just go ahead and solve it.
Shira: I guess that's the reason why Israeli companies are many times front runners in their industries.
Amir: That's also probably why so many big companies have branches in Israel.
Shira: Like Intel and Microsoft?
Amir: To name a few.
Shira: Ok. Another very influential part of Israeli society is politics.
Amir: Israelis love to talk about politics.
Shira: Yes, they do. The government is a parliamentary democracy where the people vote for the ruling party and the government. The president gives the task of assembling a coalition to the leader of the majority party, who then becomes the prime minister.
Amir: The current prime minister is [בנימין נתניהו] (Bin'ya'min ne'tan'ya'hu) from the [ליכוד] (Li'kud) party. And the current president in Israel is [שמעון פרס] (Shim'on peres).
Shira: The presidential position is mostly thought of as a figure head, as the actual ruling of the state belongs to the prime minister.
Amir: Well, that's enough politics. I think we should go on to the next topic.
Shira: Good idea. What do you have in mind?
Amir: I wanted to talk about something that is compulsory in Israel.
Shira: You must be talking about the army, right?
Amir: Exactly. It's a real rite of passage for every 18 year old.
Shira: The only ones who are not required to serve are Arab citizens, those with physical or mental issues, and those who are taking part in full-time religious studies.
Amir: Young men have to serve for three years, whereas young women serve for two years only.
Shira: Yes, and at the end of this compulsory service, you can choose to continue in permanent service for a few years or as a life-time career.
Amir: Once women are done with their compulsory service, they're completely released. But men are required to serve a few weeks each year in reserve duty until their early 40s.
Shira: You know, army service is something that I have always felt I can't relate to. And, in a way, it's something that I feel like I've missed out on. Many Israelis make friendships in the army that they keep for life.
Amir: Well, it's definitely an important time in our lives. I think we come out of the army much more mature than our counterparts in other countries who don't have compulsory service. It causes us to grow up very quickly.
Shira: Yeah, it agree with that. So in this lesson we've really just touched on a few aspects of Israeli society. Just to leave you with a few more interesting facts, here we go.
Amir: The life expectancy in Israel is the eighth highest in the world, with an average of 85.5 years for men, and 82.8 years for women.
Shira: Israel is one of the most highly educated countries in the world, with he highest number of engineers, scientists and PhD per capita.
Amir: Compared to other developed countries, the ratio of motored vehicles to people is relatively low at about 300 motor vehicles to every 1000 people. This is because we have a very extensive public transportation system and relatively short distances to travel in Israel.
Shira: Well that was our glimpse into modern Israel.
Amir: We hope you know us a little better now.
Shira: Yes, and get to know more on the next All About Hebrew lesson at…