What are the Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel? So after you toured the Holy Land, Now it’s time to get some gifts to your loved ones or maybe just some people you know. Well, you came to the right place because this post is all about best things to but in Israel and where to get them! So are you ready? Here we go…
Dead Sea Products
The top 10 souvenirs in Israel would be some lotions and all kinds of products from the Dead Sea. I mean, the Dead Sea was known already in antiquity for its therapeutic benefits due to the many minerals in the area. The minerals like potash, magnesium, and different salts and minerals are used for different purposes. The top company is AHAVA, but there are many others like premier. In any case, you can find all of them on your way to Masada. For example, in the Dead Sea Mall or at Ein Gedi (at the Kibbutz, not at the reservation).
Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel: Judaica
Naturally, one of the Top 10 souvenirs in Israel would be some Judaica, right?! So where can you get some cool Judaica that would make your relatives super happy? A good start would be the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. Specifically, I’m referring to the restored Roman-Byzantine Cardo, which now has a lovely shopping avenue.
Weaving Creation – is the ideal spot to find the Prayer shawl (Tallit) you’re looking for! They have a vast selection of Prayer shawls in unique colors and beautiful designs. In addition, you’ll find a whole range of Tallitot made from other materials: For example, Wool, Cotton, and even a tallit made from Silk!
Yossi Matityahu – If you haven’t heard about him, this guy is a real talent and worth checking out his website. His designs are contemporary and break the pattern of the standard convention.
Another famous silver store is Hazorfim which is spread out all over the country. But if you’re in a hurry, you can buy at the factory store just on the way to the Ben Gurion Air Port.
Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel – Jewelry
The diamond industry in Israel is super important and one of the essential industries in the world for diamond production. Diamonds are the most exported product in the State of Israel, amounting to approximately 12% of production in the entire world!
When I tour Tel Aviv, I also offer tours to the Diamond Exchange Center (Bursa), where you can purchase diamonds at a discounted price or find rare designs and high-end Jewelry. Another type of Jewelry unique to Israel is made from the Solomon Stone! Also known as Eilat Stone. A semi-precious stone that used to be quarried from the area of Eilat (Timna). I guess that’s why it got its name.
Where are some more stores where you can find nice Jewelry? One option could be Hadaya Store, whose gallery is in the Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Another shop you should consider visiting is Moriah Stone Jewelry. They make one-of-a-kind jewelry from stones found on Temple Mount (mount Moriah in Hebrew)! All handmade crafted jewelry, designed by Israeli artisans, combined with gold, diamonds, and a fraction from the Temple Mount stone.
And if you’re in Tel Aviv, there are a couple of places you should check out. First, in the very heart of Old Town Jaffa, there is a local artist you have to pay a visit to. I’m referring to no other than Ben Zion David, which makes authentic Yemenite Art. This can go together well with my Tel Aviv Day Tour that I offer to my guests. If you are already in the area, you should also check out Adina Plastlenia. They create handmade jewelry by using rare materials and advanced techniques.
Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel: Local Israeli Art
The Holy Land is dotted with fine little art galleries across the country. From original paintings to video art purchasing local art could be a very good investment! You can start by heading north to Tzfat (Safed), right on the main street of Old Town Tzfat. You can find some of the finest art galleries with local art with a Jewish twist.
Ilana Goor – This local artist probably does not need any presentation because her name is known worldwide! Ilana Gore is a multidisciplinary Israeli artist and designer. Her works are characterized by functional simplicity, alongside an expressive complexity bordering on surrealism. She developed her artistic techniques from a young age when she assembled different parts into small sculptures. Her home and her museum are located in Jaffa.
David Gerstein – Probably one of the most renowned Israeli artists today. He is a painter, sculptor, draftsman, and printmaker. His work is sold and recognized worldwide today, and you can visit his workshop in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem. So if you tour the area, consider stopping by and say hello and maybe see David in person while he is creating his new art piece.
Ein Hod Artists Village – Ein Hod is an artists’ village not far from the city of Haifa. The village was defined as a settlement for practitioners in all fields of art: visual arts, music, literature, and theater.
Olive Wood Carvings
This definitely should be on the Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel, right? Olives are one of seven fruits of the promised land. So that makes the olive tree one of the local trees here since biblical times! If you’re visiting Bethlehem, you must visit the local shops that make the most beautiful nativity kits, crosses, and rosaries, all from local olive wood.
But not just in Bethlehem but also in Jerusalem, you can find shops that offer amazing collections made by local artists. For example, Zak’s Jerusalem Gifts, located in the Christian Quarter, is one of your best options, with various items you can choose from.
Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel: Antiquities
Well, in a country like Israel which is abundant with biblical tels and archeological sites, it’s no surprise that the trade in antiquities would turn into a business. I must admit that I’m not a fan. It kind of encourages looting archeological sites by locals looking for precious stuff and then selling it in the local markets. But this is exactly how the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, right?!
In any case, in Israel, it is legit to sell antiquities from authorized dealers. Imagine buying a real coin from the Roman period or an oil lamp dated to the time of Herod the Great! You can find these shops along the Via Dolorosa in Old Town Jerusalem. And in any case, I don’t think it would be a good idea if you are not an experienced dealer. Since there are a lot of fake items circulating and without a professional next to you, I would not recommend getting into this. Just watch out! There are a lot of scammers out there.
The Armenian artists were invited to Jerusalem a century ago to renovate the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock structure is entirely covered in beautiful blue tiles. The original ones were brought from Turkey, and the newer ones, replaced by the renovations made to the building, were created in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is the most impressive “representative” of Armenian ceramics. Still, the other examples, the ones that are easier to visit, are beautiful and even move anyone who likes shades of blue.
The Three Founding Families
Three families stand out in this area in particular – apart from the family of David Ohanisian, who came from Kutahiya in central Turkey, there are also members of the Nishan Belian and Gradish Karakshian families who arrived in Jerusalem.
The tragic events known as the “Armenian Holocaust” that took place in Turkey in 1915 and during which between a million and a half million Armenians, about half of the country’s population, were killed, make it possible to understand the ceramic artists’ desire to move and work in Jerusalem.
They accepted the invitation of the officials of the new British government in Israel, which was only two years old. They did come to renovate the Dome of the Rock, but soon after, they abandoned the task that seemed almost impossible at the time and turned to independent work.
Immediately after that, they opened a joint workshop in Via Dolorosa, in the heart of the old city. This is the beginning of the Armenian ceramics of Jerusalem, a heritage considered glorious today. The tripartite partnership lasted only three years. In 1922, members of the Balian and Karkashian families established a separate workshop at 14 Nablus Street. They worked there for more than thirty years until the death of Magredish Karkashian in 1954. The Karkashian family then decided to open an independent workshop at 15 Via Dolorosa.
Beware of Fake Armenian Ceramics
In the 1970s, businessmen from Hebron entered the field of Armenian ceramics and began to copy our work and mass produce in factories in Hebron. Today these ceramics are sold all over the country and on the Internet, and they call them Armenian ceramics, but it is not.
Also, in the 1980s, some local Armenian families started producing ceramics, and even some of them copied our works so that you can find them in Jerusalem. These do not belong to the Armenian ceramic tradition of the three Ohanissian, Karkshian, and Belian families. So I hope I have convinced you that Armenian Ceramics is one of my Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel!
I invite you to visit their store and studio in Jerusalem and experience the charming and colorful world of Armenian ceramic art. They will be delighted to meet you.
They also hold painting or coloring workshops for small groups or families. So please call 02-6261587 to make an appointment in advance!
Authentic Food From Israel
For sure, one of the things to buy in Israel is authentic food! After feasting in Israel in the best restaurants, no wonder you would want to bring some of it back home, right?! Especially the ones in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. But what type of food can you buy that won’t go bad on your way back home and would be allowed into your country? So here is the ultimate list of the things you should bring with you!
Wine is one of the best options to bring to people. I mean, who doesn’t love wine?! Israel today has one of the finest wineries in the world! Grape is one of the seven fruits of the Land of Israel, and wine was used for ritual in Judaism for millenniums! But it was only in the 19th century the wine industry made its first steps here in Modern Israel. And only since the 1990s did the wine industry begins to gain world fame.
One of my top 10 souvenirs to buy in Israel would be local beer! One of my personal favorites is Malka Beer. But there are many others, to be honest, like Beer Bazar.
Top 10 Souvenirs to Buy in Israel: Olive Oil
Well, no wonder that olive oil would be on my list. First, it doesn’t go bad and last for a while, and you can easily carry it with your luggage back home. There is Shifra in Tel Aviv where you can get local olive oil in little cantines you could easily pack into your suitcase. They also have local wine and much more!
Halva & Tahini – If you haven’t tried Halva yet, you gotta try it once coming to Israel. Halva is made from sesame seeds and lots of sugar! You can find it in local food markets like Mahane Yehuda!
Spices & Herbs – While touring the local food markets, you can get some amazing local spices for your salads and meat back home. No tourist of mine ever complained about the food here in Israel! And one of the reasons is these amazing spices we use in our local cuisine.
One of them is Zaatar, a mix of hyssop, salt, sesemi and other spices that can go well on your salad or over Labaneh cheese. Spices like this one obviously can be found in any local supermarket. But much better getting it fresh from the markets.
Israeli Dates – This country, even in antiquity, was known for its delicious dates! It is common knowledge that the Romans and the Jewish people didn’t gel, but boy, oh boy, did the Romans use to love the Judaean dates. They loved it so much this region was personified on Roman coins as a date tree! Now because they are dried dates, they can last for ages and still taste as if they were just picked from the tree.
The Best Places For Souvenir Shops in Israel
Markets: Israel is blessed with authentic and colorful markets! For example, the Food market in Jerusalem Mahane Yehuda. But also in Old Town Jerusalem you market and shops everywhere! Just outside the Old City, next to Jaffa Gate, you also have Mamila Boulevard, which is THE place for the trendiest global brands.
But don’t forget Tel Aviv, as Jerusalem has wonderful markets! like Nahalat Binyamin Artisan Market. And just next to it, there is the Carmel Market as well, which is so full of color and scents that the market is gonna blow your mind away! Another market worth checking out is Levinsky Market I would recommend coming on an empty stomach because it also has amazing food! If you want to get some local produce, this is the place! And I almost forgot about the Flea Market in Jaffa.
The Christian Quarter
The Christian Quarter in the old city is ideal for buying things like antiquities (along the Via Dolorosa), Some genuine Armenian Pottery. Also, if you are interested in retro black and white photos of Palestine, this is the place! While you are hoping from shop to shop, you will be able to feast your eyes on some oriental textiles and fabrics, all kinds of leather goods, Olive Wood Carvings, and Christian-themed jewelry.
One last note! While touring, you will enter lots of shops and markets. Just make sure you are not taken advantage of. Also, double-check that the things you are getting are made locally. And you can’t get them on Amazon. Also, don’t be shy to haggle over the prices; this is especially true if you are planning to buy in the local markets in the old city.