Israel: Arts and Culture

January 1st, 2013

Arts & Culture

Israel is home to world-renowned art, dance, and design schools, as well as theater troops, an opera house, and internationally acclaimed authors. With a population largely comprised of immigrants, Israeli society has absorbed and adopted many ethnic cultural and social influences from over 100 different countries.

In an effort to promote the arts and celebrate the diversity of cultures, artistic development and creativity are actively supported by the Israeli government. For example, old neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Safed, as well as Ein Hod in the Carmel mountains near Haifa, have been restored as artists’ colonies, where a number of artists live, work, and sell their creations to tourists and visitors.  Among other, smaller, less renowned musical ensembles, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performs frequently throughout the country, as well as on tours abroad, and the Batsheva Dance Company exhibits innovations in modern dance worldwide.

The State of Israel supports an extensive array of museums around the country, whose collections range from religious, artistic, and historical, to those of national significance. A few such museums include the Israel Museum, Museum on the Seam, the Bible Lands Museum, the Islamic Art Museum, the Diaspora Museum, and the Yad Vashem: a museum and memorial to the Holocaust.

Israel has a number of schools for professional training in artistic industries, including its first school of the arts, the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Bearing the name of the first artist mentioned in the Bible, Bezalal Ben Uri, the establishment of the Bezalel Academy in 1906 was considered the first major milestone in the historical development of Israeli art.  While the first works that emerged from Bezalel were of traditional Jewish and Biblical significance, a separate, Diaspora-motivated, art movement that was disassociated from the religious artistic tradition emerged and flourished more recently. This movement sought to depict the landscape and local people of the country, and identified as ‘Hebrew,’ rather than Jewish artists. Bezalel is now the leading academy for art and design in Israel and is located in Jerusalem.(1)

Israel also promotes a number of performing arts troupes, including theater, dance, and musical ensembles that were established in the years before the State. The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936, has played as the Israeli national orchestra since its inception, and hosts renowned conductors and musicians from around the world. The orchestra performs at its home auditorium, Heikhal Ha-Tarbut, in Tel Aviv, as well as abroad.

The Theater industry in Israel consists of a variety of small and large theater groups of different genres, styles, and origins. The Bima Theater and The Kameri Theater are the two largest theater companies in Israel. The Bima Theater originated in Russia, but has been considered Israel’s national theater company since before the establishment of the State. The Kameri Theater was initially established to offer a local alternative to The Bima Theater, with younger actors, contemporary subjects, and a more Hebrew-friendly, Israeli style, as compared with the traditionally Eastern-European style of The Bima Theater.

Israeli dance troupes have received significant recognition in recent years, and also perform around Israel and abroad. Three of the larger dance troupes include the Israeli Ballet, the Bat Sheva (modern dance) company, and the Kibbutz Dance Company. Information about each of the aforementioned theaters, orchestras, and dance companies can be found in the links below.

Additional Links (courtesy of MFA):









  1. Israeli Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Leisure,