What Election Day in Israel is Really Like

By Deena Levenstein

Israelis repeatedly fascinate and entertain me with their playful approach to the most serious of issues. I know, I know – that is not at all what you’re seeing on the news as Israel’s elections seem to have taken over, even internationally. But walk the streets of Israel’s cities today and you’ll probably notice a surprisingly relaxed vibe.

Here’s why. Election day is a national holiday. And so on the one hand Israel’s future lies in the ballots, and on the other hand, besides voting, there isn’t much left to do but wait for the results.

Touring Israel - hashchena wine tasting
Tastings from Israeli wineries at Hashchena in the Mahane Yehuda Market

We have one commandment to fulfill: “Thou shalt vote.” And after that? We finally have a day off to spend blissfully hiking, going out or staying in with family and friends.

In fact, it is one of the most wonderful holidays of the year. (Maybe that’s why our politicians seem to send us to elections way too often.)

With no work today, last night was also an opportunity to get out to chill or party. I was in the shuk area in Jerusalem where I ran an event-hopping event. We stopped at four shuk venues (all of which were hopping), including Hashchena where we had a wonderful wine-tasting experience accompanied by live (sometimes Yiddish) swing music by Divano Swing.

Then we walked over to Tahrir Bar where we danced it out to Middle Eastern music (that seemed to be mixed with some Balkan beats) by Alila:

Yes, this was last night on the eve of election day!

Of course for all the fun to be had on a day off, the elections have been on all our minds much of the time. And when I went to vote today, I was surprised (probably not for the first time) by how emotional the experience actually is. It is the moment when we stop and see our little democratic state in action. With tears in my eyes, I picked up the note for the party I’d decided to vote for, I said a small prayer for the people and land of Israel, and I had my democratic say.

And then I had a very rowdy barbecue with my family.

So this is election day in Israel. We do all have our hopes, our fears and our very, very, very strong opinions, but we also know when it’s time to kick back and let democracy do the talking. And it is indeed an inspiration and honor to be a part of it – wonderful wine, live music, dancing, democracy and all.

Israel is waiting for you! We’d love to hear from you with any questions you have about visiting Israel.


Deena Levenstein

Deena Levenstein is a writer and social-cultural entrepreneur in Jerusalem. She creates and hosts events and runs "Things to do in Jerusalem," a Facebook group of handpicked cultural events in the city. In her spare time she blogs at

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