Author Topic: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?  (Read 3126 times)

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Sock Puppet

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Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« on: February 08, 2012, 10:00:04 PM »
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« Last Edit: September 22, 2012, 10:22:01 PM by Frozen Lulupop »

NyaChan

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2012, 10:31:55 PM »
I'm pretty sure the state department released some information on how tourists should behave and use caution in those areas.  They included modest dress & a suggestion to avoid cars (I think...).

Hillia

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2012, 11:07:15 PM »
Warning: this does mention religion, but purely because it's regarding a religious establishment and I need some specifics about it.

I'm hoping to visit Jerusalem towards the end of the year as part of a tour. We have some free time and there's a synagogue that I want to visit that has ties to my family name. It's a very well known synagogue so I assume it has millions of visitors per year, but I've read a few reviews about the locals being unwelcoming to visitors.

I would still like to visit it, but is there anything that I can do/should do to minimise any problems or disruptions? Specific clothing or anythig like that? It's a Hasidic Judaism community if that helps.

The locals might be unwelcoming because they resent a significant spiritual location being treated like any other tourist destination (not that you would do that, but people who felt that unwelcoming vibe might not have been respectful).

I would think the agency that organizes the tour could give you advice about what is considered respectful behavior in the synagogue.  I believe that women are expected to dress very modestly: long skirts, long sleeved tops with high necks, and head covering like a scarf. 

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Shopaholic

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2012, 11:46:38 PM »
Technically, in Judaism you should have your elbows and knees covered. I'd add to that closed shoes and a high neckline.
I'm not sure about the head covering, but if you do take a scarf, not a baseball cap or something like that.
An organized tour should be able to give you the exact information about what you're supposed to wear.
I'd also ask at what time you should come, as there are services several times a day.

The ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem is not very welcoming to strangers. They are especially wary of what their children see. My 8th grade went on a class trip to Jerusalem, and during a tour of one of the Orthodox neighborhoods the locals threw trash and poopy diapers at them because they were dressed inappropriately (girls in trousers) at a time when the kids could see them.

Anyway, I hope you won't let the inhospitatlity of a group of people color your view of Israel and Israelis. Israelis in general are very welcoming to guests and many will go out of their way to help you. Probably every Israeli you meet will try to convince you that he knows the best falafel vendor in the country, you've just got to try it!

I'm going to strongly recommend that you see other parts of Israel as well - Jerusalem is so very NOT Israel, and most people I know absolutely hate going there. If I recall correctly, you're Austrsalian and I'm sure youll find that Israelis take their beach culture almost as seriously as Australians (although the beaches are not as awesome).

Feel free to PM me if you'd like more ideas.  :) I don't know a lot about Jerusalem, but I do know Tel Aviv and Haifa.

ladiedeathe

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2012, 10:26:24 PM »
If you want the best possible response, absolutely wear a scarf over your hair when you get there (i.e. don't have your hair hanging out for anyone to see when you arrive), be covered from neck to ankles and to elbows or below. Wear a comfy loose skirt that day, and a 3/4 sleeve blouse- darker colors, pastels, or whites are great, stay away from reds and scarlets, or even red-purples to be really safe. Closed toe shoes only. Do not snap pics of anyone Hasidic without permission, do not touch any male Hasid/Orthodox Jew (including shaking hands), if possible have your husband/boyfriend/father escort you there, but remember you will not be allowed in the male area of the synagogue. DO NOT ARGUE  or touch someone if no one will speak to you or if asked to leave an area, or if you can't understand what someone is trying to tell you but they seem to be getting quite upset- leave and find someone who can translate or explain- people have had stones thrown at them for invading areas where they are not wanted.

My husband and I come from Chabad and Hasidic families- please be careful. Outsiders are emphatically not welcome in some places- irrespective of religion or country of origin or tourist book. Sadly, my husband feels "this is a bloody bad idea" and knowing that my own family would be some of those throwing stones at you if you screw up, I can just say be very careful.
"Here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Have chalice, will travel."

Sophia

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2012, 10:54:54 PM »
I would write to the synagogue asking them, maybe mentioning the family name connection.  You have plenty of time. 

Shopaholic

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 03:13:47 PM »

The main tour starts and ends in Cairo, going through Israel and Jordan so unfortaunately side trips around Israel probably aren't possible, but I know there's a beach day with diving etc, so I might be able to skip that and do something else  (I'm not a beach person- so not a typical Aussie!)


Interesting that you are planning a trip to Egypt as well. I think it has a fascinating history.
Have the tours to Egypt been affected by the current situation there?

cicero

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2012, 06:31:12 AM »
HI Lulupop! i live in jerusalem and if you have a chance - would be very happy to meet up with you somewhere in town.

as for your question -
I don't know what the reviewers meant about "unwelcoming", but look at it this way: for the visitors/tourists, this synagogue is a tourist attraction. for the local people who use the synagogue, it is a synagogue - a holy place, a place where people go to pray. so, it's possible, that the locals are not ecstatic about being a "tourist site".

also, as some PPs pointed out, these religious/hassidic groups have very specific rules relating to modesty and actiions that are not allowed on the sabbath (from sundown friday till stars out saturday) - mostly the use of electricity, cameras, phones, driving a car, but there are many other things that most of us do without even thinking but they are not allowed on the sabbath

Since your family name has ties  to the synagogue, i would suggest you contat them ahead of time. Let me know if you need help tracking down a phone number.

and sadly, i actually agree with ladydeathe's husband about this being a bad idea :'(

PS - wear stockings or socks that cover your bare legs.

Warning: this does mention religion, but purely because it's regarding a religious establishment and I need some specifics about it.

I'm hoping to visit Jerusalem towards the end of the year as part of a tour. We have some free time and there's a synagogue that I want to visit that has ties to my family name. It's a very well known synagogue so I assume it has millions of visitors per year, but I've read a few reviews about the locals being unwelcoming to visitors.

I would still like to visit it, but is there anything that I can do/should do to minimise any problems or disruptions? Specific clothing or anythig like that? It's a Hasidic Judaism community if that helps.

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strangetimes

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Re: Not-so-welcoming Tourist Attraction - any advice?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2012, 06:26:39 PM »
The problem here is that the place you want to visit is emphatically *not* a tourist attraction. Imagine if your local church or house of worship was considered unusual and a place of interest by people around the world. Sounds nice, right? But what if it was so unusual that tourists would come visit during services? And instead of quietly observing, they would be dressed inappropriately, making noise and snapping pictures of the "quaint" locals? What if they were looking at you as zoo animals rather than people trying to go about their daily lives in the way they see fit?

Not everyone who comes to visit does that, of course. Enough do, though. And remember- this isn't a tourist attraction. The people who live there aren't asking for tourists to come visit, they just want to live their lives within their own community.

It's entirely appropriate for you to want to visit the synagogue, especially since your family has ties. I agree with Cicero that you should try to contact them to make some sort of arrangement. Contrary to what other people may think, most of these communities are very warm and welcoming to people who approach them respectfully. And, yes- you should make sure to arrive there dressed in a way that they would consider appropriate. (skirt should be at least calf-length without a slit and not tight, neckline should cover the collarbone, sleeves below the elbow, nothing sheer or tight, knee socks or stockings. Married women should cover their hair)

I'm intimately familiar with many of these communities, so if you have any questions about what to expect, I'd be happy to help out!