Israeli Tipping Protocol, Israeli Gratuities, & Israeli Culture
- DON'T worry about a dress code, normally. Most of Israel is Westernized.
- DO dress more conservatively if visiting a synagogue or mosque. No bare legs or arms.
- DO cover your head in a synagogue if you're a man.
- DO wear proper business attire if attending a business function. In the summer, proper business attire for men is a light suit (with or without a tie), or a button up shirt with nice pants. In the winter, proper business attire for men is a suit, jacket, and tie. For women, appropriate business attire are dresses and skirts of a reasonable length or slacks.
- DO assume that your hosts keep kosher unless they tell you otherwise. Keeping kosher means that pork and shellfish are completely off limits, and mixing dairy and meat is not allowed. Be aware of this!
- DO expect an informal atmosphere at meals.
- DO eat only what you want off your plate. It's not customary to eat everything off your plate unless you want to.
- DO give a gift to a business associate if invited to their home.
- DON'T spend more than USD 20 on a gift.
- DO give flowers. There are no rules or customs in terms of giving flowers.
Visting Someone's Home
- DO bring a gift. A bottle of kosher wine or flowers is a perfect gift for your host.
- DO expect dinner at someone's home to last the entire evening.
- DON'T discuss business at someone's home.
- DO call to thank your hosts for their hospitality. A written thank you note isn't necessary.
- DO schedule your appointments one or two days in advance. If you're meeting with a high-ranking official, then your appointment might take even longer to arrange.
- DO be on time. Meetings start within ten minutes of the scheduled start time. Business negotiations will begin quickly.
- DO feel comfortable making small talk in the beginning of the meeting. You may chat about weather, your hotel, family, etc., but avoid politics or religion unless you know your hosts views and don't be critical!
- DO expect business meetings to be fairly informal.
- DON'T expect to receive business cards when doing business in Israel. Unless the meeting is with a big company, business cards are usually not exchanged.
- DON'T make disrespectful remarks about the Torah or Judaism.
- DON'T discuss the Arab-Israeli situation.
- DON'T bring up the Holocaust.
- DO feel comfortable moving to a first name basis rather quickly. This is common in Israel.
- DO shake hands upon meeting someone and again upon departing.
- DON'T shake hands with a woman who is obviously religious. In Orthodox Judaism, men and women who are not married do not touch each other at all.
- DO stand upon visitors entering a room. Men will also often stand whenever a woman enters.
- DO expect to see and hear a lot of English. Although Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of Israel, most people speak English, as it is mandatory in Israeli schools. Street signs are also in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
- DO bargain when shopping. At bazaars sometimes you can get the merchant down to 25% of the original price. Bargaining at malls and big stores is a little harder, but you may want to give it a whirl anyway! The more you buy, the easier it will be to bargain.
In restaurants, always check the bill to see if a service charge has been added before paying a tip. If not, then do tip generously if the service was good (10-15%).
Our Israeli Tipping Recommendations
- Taxis and Limos: Tipping optional, 10-15%