Thoughts on Researching Abroad

As the research process winds to a close, and before I post my summary, I thought I would do a blog post on what I learned simply from living in Israel for three weeks, and being immersed in a culture so very different from that of the United States.

Before the inception of the state of Israel, it was the intention of most Zionists to create, as Chaim Weizmann said, a country “as Jewish as England is English and America is American.” In many ways, big and small, this vision is spectacularly realized. First are the things one can’t help but notice. Public transportation and almost every business in the Jewish part of Jerusalem shut down on Friday evening, and reopen on Saturday night, in conjunction with the Shabbat. Also, every restaurant I visited in Jerusalem kept kosher. Lastly, and, I think, most interestingly, all currently issued shekel coins do not have images of people or animals on them, in conjunction with Judaism’s prescriptions against graven images. It is amazing to see how a religion can so deeply influence the everyday aspects of life.

Another big difference between Israel and the United States, I found, was the heightened security. While cities in Israel are just as modern as many cities in Europe and the U.S, I felt as though I was never out of the sight of an IDF soldier whenever I was on the street. The state of Israel has a lot of enemies in its immediate vicinity, and it’s extremely interesting, to me, that the military presence has become such a natural part of every day life.

Comments

  1. emrodvien says:

    Interesting observations. How did the heightened security presence affect your research? Were there any instances where it actually interfered with research practice? Did you leave Israel with a new perspective on the intrusion of security efforts into everyday life?