How are you? May I help you? Please. Thank you.
These 10 words are ones
we don’t hear enough in Israel.
The Sabra (native-born Israeli) has a
reputation of being rough and rude. Just like the cactus fruit. Israelis
typically see themselves as prickly on the outside (presumably for protective
purposes) and sweet on the inside. And while this is a stereotype that can be
rationalized away by endless excuses, we have all encountered the off-putting
behavior of many locals.
The people most shocked by it are generally new
immigrants, and foreign tourists and business people used to more courteous
conduct in their countries of origin.
Just as Israel has gained a
reputation for helping other countries in times of need, we think it is time for
us as a nation to take on a more welcoming, kinder demeanor toward each
To this end, The Jerusalem Post proposes the following 10
commandments of everyday etiquette.
1. Be polite. It doesn’t take much
time or effort to treat others politely. At home, at work, on the roads and on
the street, let’s talk to each other and behave respectfully. It is important to
be hospitable when greeting strangers and visitors from abroad, but also when
dealing with family, friends and colleagues with whom we interact
2. Be courteous. Let’s be more civil and well-mannered in our
conduct. While politeness generally refers to speech, being courteous requires
us to relate properly to other human beings. And as the word “courtesy” implies,
it doesn’t cost anything.
3. Be patient. Don’t get angry, shout or honk
your car horn unnecessarily. If you keep a cool head while others are losing
their tempers, it can only help calm the situation. Impatience is one of the
main causes of impoliteness.
4. Be respectful. The Torah instructs us to
respect our parents. We should also show respect for other relatives, friends
and strangers. Children should be taught to respect their elders from a young
age. In business dealings, in the service trade such as in stores and
restaurants and on the roads, let’s be respectful to others and expect them to
5. Be helpful. If you see someone who is in trouble or
simply needs a helping hand, don’t hesitate to offer assistance. If you are in a
position to help someone, why not do so? 6. Be nice. This is a fundamental rule
to heed whenever possible. We human beings are all in this world together, so
let’s be nice to each other whenever possible. No one is too busy to be nice.
There are always nice ways to relate to people, even if you’re preoccupied with
7. Be kind. If there’s an opportunity to be kind to
another human being, don’t miss it. Kindness is almost always appreciated,
especially by those in need.
8. Be gentle. None of us responds well to
violent language or behavior. Unless you’re being threatened violently by
someone, try to be gentle with others, especially children. Your gentle approach
could provide an example for others to follow, and affect the way people behave
in your immediate surroundings.
9. Be generous. It doesn’t cost much to
be generous in relating to other people, whatever the circumstances.
you see someone trying to cross the road, or a car trying to get into your lane,
why not stop and help them? 10. Be thankful. This is a basic behavior which we
all need to nurture. Whether it’s in our daily lives or in prayers, let’s
appreciate and say thank you for what we have. And it helps to smile when giving
This simple facial gesture can communicate that you are truly
thankful and appreciative.
This list is clearly not exhaustive, but it’s
a starting point. There are an estimated 300,000 Anglos in Israel (which has a
total population of more than 8 million), and if we make a point of being
polite, perhaps others will follow suit. If we treat each other with more
respect, perhaps it will spill over into our relationships with our neighbors in
the region and the world. It starts with us.