By Tamar Pross, cofounder of Citizen Café Tel Aviv
Internationals who live in Israel often ask me: How can I make Israeli friends?
But first, in order to answer this question, you first need to understand the Israeli culture, and how Israelis make friends.
One of the most important values in Israeli culture is friendship. Israelis keep their friends very close and care more about giving than getting out of the relationship.
They enjoy opening up their warmth and generosity, which is expressed through shared experiences together. That’s why they find great enjoyment in hosting, attending events, and doing things together with friends.
Israelis value long-lasting friendships which are built through common experiences, especially significant, life-changing ones. For example, Israelis go through the experience of the army, and undergo extreme circumstances, which builds common ground.
This makes it easy for Israelis to form a strong bond over a common experience.
In addition, Israelis share common communication skills, warmth, and love for friends.
Israelis also tend to value strong bonds.
Israelis don’t feel the need for fake, disingenuous relationships. They’ll stick together through hardship and aren’t afraid to speak directly with their friends. They’re open about almost everything and don’t get easily offended.
Furthermore, they’ll take extreme measures to take care of their friends if they’re in need of help.
Israelis may seem hard to connect with because they stay friends from previous chapters of their life, such as the from the army, home, and university. They tend to stay friends for life.
After all, physical distance isn’t really a separating factor here in Israel because everything is relatively close.
If one of your goals is to make Israeli friends, put yourself in situations with Israelis in different experiences and situations.
The more you invest in a life surrounded by Israelis, the more you’ll have the opportunity to build lasting relationships, whether you’re looking to make friends, find romance, or integrate better at work.
In order to build relationships with Israelis, you need to have a bonding experience with them. Again, they respect friendships with a common past.
Join communities here, so you’ll have something to bond over.
If you like to run, for example, join a running group; if you like to paint, sign up for classes at a studio; if you have kids, join a parents circle. Because the cultural differences exist, try sharing passions in other areas of life.
When building relationships with Israelis, don’t worry about the superficial factors. For example, arriving on-time to dinner, or being polite, aren’t first priority in Israeli friendships. They value that you bring something to the friendship.
To find the “glue” that bonds Israelis, reach out in you social circles for example at work, or insist on having an Israeli flatmate, or dating an Israeli. You’ll need to create dynamic experiences and bond with them on a common denominator, other than culture.
All in all, Israelis are generally very warm and want to build lasting relationships. Plus, they’re often intrigued by internationals who choose to move to and live in their country.
Bring your passions to the table and establish common ground. Give, and you’ll see how much you’ll get in return.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tamar Pross is the cofounder of Citizen Café Tel Aviv, which offers a fresh approach to the way tourists and newcomers “hack” Tel Aviv’s dynamic, fast-paced language, culture, and lifestyle. Tamar has moved around the world 18 times across Israel, North America, Europe, and Australia. She was born and raised in Israel.