Tips on Dining Etiquette for Israel Cruises or Land Tours
When spending time in different countries and cultures, various forms of etiquette can be very important. One central such area to be aware of in many foreign countries is dining etiquette, which is often taken very seriously.
At Cruise Lady, our staff is happy to provide recommendations and etiquette tips for any of our cruise or land tour locations for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Israel trips and tours are some of our most popular events – let’s look at some of the basic themes of dining etiquette within this multi-cultural Middle Eastern centerpiece.
Basic Etiquette and Behavior
Israelis are generally considered great hosts, the kind who may try to over-cater to you to make you feel comfortable in their home or establishment. While broad statements like these always have exceptions, of course, one general tip is to note whether you’re dining in the home or establishment of a primarily Jewish or Christian family, or that of a Muslim one – rules and basic customs will differ here, and may be slightly stricter in the latter case. However, all these groups of people generally understand that foreigners may not fully grasp all their customs immediately, and will be forgiving here in most cases.
If you’re dining with Jews, men may be asked to cover their heads as part of religious custom. If dining with Muslims, conservative dress may be appropriate, including covering the arms and legs. Certain extremely traditional and conservative Muslim homes may also limit eating with a person of the opposite sex who is not related to you, though this is less common today than in previous generations.
Regardless of the culture you’re entering, dress nicely and respectfully. If you are asked to cover your head or make any other alteration to your attire, comply without complaint.
Arrival and Greetings
Always arrive on time, and immediately check to see if hosts have removed their shoes at the door – if so, do the same yourself. Allow your hosts to show you to your seat, and do not begin eating or serving yourself until the host invites you to.
A few general tips for the actual dining experience:
- Devout Jews and Muslims alike refrain from eating pork as part of their religions, which shouldn’t be an issue since it’s not as widely available in Israel. In addition, if meat is served, do not mix it with dairy products like butter or milk in a Jewish home, as this goes against Kosher laws.
- Many devout Muslims do not consume alcohol – be aware of this in advance and do not bring any alcohol with you if this is the case in the home you’re visiting.
- Use the continental style for eating – knife in the right hand, fork in the left. Some meals may be eaten with the hands, in which case the right is often preferable in Muslim culture.
- You should at least try every item offered to you, as not doing so could be considered rude or discourteous (the only exception here is a major food allergy). However, you don’t have to feel obligated to finish everything, as many Israelis will heavily over-serve guests.
If you are dining in a restaurant in Israel, check the bill for a service charge. This is often applied automatically by restaurants and replaces the tip, though you can add to this amount if you choose. If no service charge is present, be sure to tip your wait staff in the same range as you would at home.
For more on proper dining etiquette in Israel, or to learn about any of our other cruise or land tour locations or programs, speak to the staff at Cruise Lady today.