Israel, the Holy Land, is the site of so many places important to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Western Wall, the Temple Mount, Al Aquasa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock, the Garden Tomb, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are just a few of the many Holy sites that are to be found in Israel. Right around the size of the US state of New Jersey, Israel is certainly not a large country, but as I found when I visited, it has a wealth of historical and religious areas.
Now, if you plan to visit many of these religious areas in Israel, you will need to follow several guidelines for coming to these places. I recently returned from a trip to Israel, and I will now share with you what to expect, and what to do at these Holy Places.
First off, you simply must realize that traveling to Israel is not going to be the same as traveling to Chicago, or LA, or just some American city. It is a different country, with different customs and a different culture. Expect it to be different, and don’t go looking for the exact same thing a you would find in the USA. This applies to Holy Sites especially-while you may be able to enter many museums and churches in the United States in pretty much any manner, this is not the same way in the country of Israel. Be prepared for this.
These Holy Places in Israel often enforce a strict dress code. You are not allowed to dress immodestly, especially if you are a woman. Ladies, you will have to keep your shoulders, chest, and even the lower part of your neck (in some cases) very covered up, or you risk not being able to come into many of these sites. Both men and women must have their legs covered to below the kneecaps-so, if you are a guy or a girl, and your shorts or skirt does not cover your kneecap, then you will either not be allowed into the site, or you will have to don a rather humorous looking, and thick, wrap-around skirt provided by the Holy Site.
In some occasions, these skirts are not available, and you will be forced to wait outside while the rest of your more modestly dressed friends get to venture within. Also, heads must be covered in some areas. This means that both men and women must put on a hat, or use a hat offered by the site to visit the area. This is especially important at the Western Wall and at David’s tomb.
If you want to get into the Holy Sites without any problem, I would suggest simply making sure that you are quite covered up, and avoiding wearing shorts or skirts. While some longer shorts, and Capri-style pants are often accepted, other times they may not be. You can avoid any hassle here by just wearing jeans or another type of long pants. Try to find something light and breathable, as the weather, especially in the summer, is quite warm.
In many of the Holy Sites, men and women are not allowed to enter the same area, and are separated into two groups. Be prepared for this, and plan accordingly when thinking about how to meet up afterwards. Also, be reverent and respectful-while you may not agree with the certain religion that respects the area, at least keep your voice down, and stay out of the way of the religion’s adherents.
Dress modestly, be polite and understanding, and be flexible. Traveling to visit Israel and see many of the Holy Places there is a wonderful experience, but a little bit of information beforehand can save you much time and frustration later on. Enjoy!