Sunday, December 3, 2017

Things That Surprised Me About Israeli Culture

It’s been a few weeks since my trip to Israel. I’ve had time to process my experience, and I wanted to share some of the things that surprised me about Israeli culture during my stay. To be totally honest, I was a bit apprehensive about taking this journey to across the world. I mean, Israel is in the Middle East and, with everything happening there and what I’ve heard on the news, I wondered if it really was a good idea to travel there.

The offer to attend Vibe Israel’s fitness tour was just too amazing to pass up and everyone who I talked to from the organization was more than nice and answered all of my questions and concerns, so I knew I couldn’t turn it down that easily. I asked family and friends if they had ever visited Israel, and I was surprised to hear that quite a few of them had been there – and they all had wonderful things to say about the country. I accepted the invitation, but that nervous feeling stayed with me right up until I arrived in Israel. Was it safe to travel there? Would the culture feel “stuffy” and super religious? How were women treated there? Would I be able to easily keep in touch with my family back home?

Looking back, I feel silly for even thinking the things above. So. So. Silly. On the last day of the trip, I actually told the Vibe Israel people that I was surprised how similar our cultures are, but, of course, there were a number of things that surprised me about the culture too.

The LGBT community is widely accepted in Tel Aviv. This is probably the thing that surprised me the most. Religion is huge is Israel, so I just figured there would be mostly traditional views on marriage and relationships (for sure in Jerusalem), but Tel Aviv is whole different story. It actually hosts the second biggest LGBT parade in the world!

There’s no single Israeli cuisine. There are foods and recipes that are common to Israel, but most of their cuisine is influenced by other countries. One of my favorite meals in Israel was Sabich, a pita sandwich stuffed with fried eggplant and hard boiled eggs as well as other delicious ingredients, and it’s actually known as an Iraqi breakfast.

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Tech is HUGE. Tel Aviv is a bumpin’ technology center. There are tons of start-ups and famous companies that were started there, including Fiverr. Facebook and other major tech companies even have some of their offices in Tel Aviv. We had the opportunity to spend some time with a bunch of fitness start-ups and everyone was super passionate about what they were doing. We learned about FitScanner, a free body fat scanner and calculator, which is the coolest thing ever. In fact, we already told our Designed to Fit clients about it since figuring out your body fat percentage can be a little tricky if you don’t have a scale that does it for you.

Everyone is required to join the army after high school – even women. I was pretty surprised by this and, truthfully, kind of bugged out by it. Maybe because I would be so scared to enter the army at 18 years old. But, what we learned is that it’s actually an amazing experience for so many Israelis when it comes to learning important life skills, establishing strong friendships, and networking that extends well beyond the army. It actually makes a lot more sense to me than going to college, drinking keg beer, and acting like a lunatic for 4 years (like I did). You also get to select from a few areas of the army that you would be a good fit for, so it can narrow your focus for college and jumpstart your career.

There are a lot of dogs (and cats) in Tel Aviv. I thought people in the US loved their dogs, but Israelis take it to a whole new level! There were dogs EVERYWHERE in Tel Aviv. People were walking them, carrying them in their bags, dining with them at restaurants… they were everywhere, which, of course, I loved to see. And the cats… there were lots of strays just hanging out around the city. I thought they were cute, but I got the sense that they were pretty gross, so I guess petting them was like petting a squirrel? Oh, well. Live and learn.

There were a lot of shots. I just thought our group was out to have a realllllly good time, but shots of Arak (aniseed drink)were pretty common – at dinner, the airport, and even the spa where we got massages.

There were also lots of co-ed bathrooms. Sometimes, I see co-ed bathrooms in the US. I don’t think they’re a huge deal, but they always kind of surprise me. (I guess I’m just used to the men-women thing.) In Tel Aviv, I feel like almost every bathroom I used was co-ed. Maybe it was just where we went, but I was surprised to see how common it was.

There’s no language barrier. This was a big concern for me going to Israel. I kind of panic when I can’t communicate with someone, so this was most definitely on my mind when I arrived in Tel Aviv. During the trip, there were truly no issues when it came to language. If anything, we had more (hilarious) issues with the British people on the trip. I mean, who pronounces “fillet” (as in fish fillet) “fill-et”? Ha! (We had a good laugh about that.) Everyone in Tel Aviv, especially the younger generation, knew English quite well.

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Weekend Link Love — Edition 480

weekend_linklove in-lineResearch of the Week

Postprandial insulin response just might be the best early predictor of diabetes and heart disease risk.

The average prehistoric woman had stronger arms than today’s average elite woman rower.

It doesn’t matter if you’re healthy. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages still isn’t good for your vascular function.

Artificial light at night is a novel risk factor for cancer morbidity and metabolic disorders.

Carb restriction paired with interval training is still the best treatment for metabolic dysfunction.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

Episode 197: Jacques DeVore: I chat with Jacques DeVore, top strength and conditioning coach, about his revolutionary new book and program for cyclists. Bicycling Maximum Overload for Cyclists shows cyclists how to increase speed and athletic longevity in half the training time.

Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.

Interesting Blog Posts

Merely thinking you exercise less than your peers—even if it isn’t true—is bad for your longevity.

If you take biotin, know that it can throw off the results of certain lab tests.

Media, Schmedia

Uptown and downtown New York City rats are diverging into different species.

Sprucing up, refining, and retelling your family story can improve your family’s future.

Everything Else

In case you were wondering what to do with all those empty Primal Kitchen mayo jars

Graphene-fed spiders spin webs that rival the strength of kevlar.

Prehistoric global warming probably made this all possible by melting the glaciers and flushing nutrients into the ocean, kickstarting the development of complex organic life.

If free will exists, modern media is an assault on it.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Article I enjoyed: Modern sports as proxy for war between tribes.

I gotta say, I’m disappointed: The remains of 9 yetis turn out to be the remains of 8 bears and a dog.

Concept I’m pondering: What Western parents don’t teach their children.

Harvey Weinstein would agree: “It seems downright silly and certainly maladaptive for an animal to have sex with a plant.”

I’d certainly prefer it over vainly struggling on life support: LSD for the terminally ill.

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Dec 3– Dec 9)

Comment of the Week

I’m talking about it! Talked about it right here on the Primal Blueprint Podcast, in fact. ?

– Indeed, Amy. Folks who like their brains should check out her great book on the subject, The Alzheimer’s Antidote.


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