The cultural life of Israel is a mirror of the special history of the region. Israel is home to the holy places of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall of the Jews, the Church of Jesus of the Holy Sepulcher, the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque as holy places for Muslims are concentrated in a very small space.
While the Arab population predominantly identifies with the culture of the Palestinians , different attitudes towards religion (Judaism , Orthodoxy) and traces of the different countries of origin are evident in the cultural life of the Jewish majority of the population. The Russian Jews make up the largest group with around 20%.
For example, the Israeli National Theater Habima (“stage”) in Tel Aviv was originally founded in Moscow. The literature is also written not only in Hebrew (Hebrew literature), but also in Yiddish (Yiddish literature), English, Russian or Arabic. Modern literature often takes up socio-political issues such as the Jewish-Arab conflict or personal experiences in connection with identity, migration and religion. Well-known writers are A. Oz , D. Grossman and O. Castel-Bloom . SJ Agnon received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1966. The stories of the satirist E. Kishon have been translated into many languages. In the field of film, productions with a socio-political background predominate, such as “Waltz with Bashir” (2008) by Ari Folman (* 1962) or “Dancing Arabs” (2014, German “Mein Herz tanzt”) by Eran Riklis (* 1954). Film academies are located in the Israeli cultural centers of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The film actress N. Portman was born in Jerusalem.
Modern Israeli art unites international currents with Jewish art. The Bezalel Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem is the largest and most prestigious art school in the country. Art in all forms is featured in many museums and an abundance of galleries across the country. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the country’s national museum containing the Qumran Scrolls. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial is also located in Jerusalem. The “White City” of Tel Aviv in the Bauhaus style is a World Heritage Site.
Classical music is very important in Israel. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra regularly go on international tours. Israeli rock and pop music is strongly influenced by the countries of origin of the different immigrant groups. Israelis like to sing and often know the lyrics of local folklore and pop music by heart. A well-known singer was Ofra Haza (* 1957, † 2000). There is also singing in the dying Ladino. The traditional folk music Klezmer originally comes from Eastern Europe. Israeli hip-hop with a mixture of oriental-Mediterranean sounds, hard rap and soul thematizes social and political aspects of Israeli everyday life.
The most popular sports in Israel are soccer and basketball. The Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball club is the best-known and most successful sports club in Israel. Swimming, sailing and windsurfing are also practiced by recreational athletes along the coast. Russian immigrants in particular have stimulated the sport of chess.
World Heritage Sites in Israel
- Old city with extensive city walls of Jerusalem (1981)
- Old City of Akko (2001)
- Masada Archaeological Site (2001)
- The “White City” of Tel Aviv (2003)
- Biblical Settlements Megiddo, Hazor, Beersheba (2005)
- Incense Route and Desert Cities in the Negev (2005)
- Baha’i Holy Places in Haifa and Western Galilee (2008)
- Archaeological Sites in the Carmel Mountains (2012)
- Grave caves in Marescha and Bet Guvrin (K; 2014)
- Beth Shearim necropolis in northwest Israel (K; 2015)