If you have ever wanted to visit a cosmopolitan city, then Jerusalem is the place. Jerusalem attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually from across the globe, visitors who are anxious to see and touch archeological remains dating back thousands of years. Visitors come from all over world to visit Jerusalem because it’s the spiritual center for three of the major world religions. With all these visitors congregating in one place, no wonder why you can hear a melting pot of languages. You’ll notice it the minute you walk into your Jerusalem hotel. You’ll hear English, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, etc.
Although Hebrew is the official language of the country, most Israelis can converse in a second language. Your receptionist at your Jerusalem hotel can probably speak English fluently, and usually has a spattering knowledge of Arabic, French, or Russian. In fact, speaking a second language is probably a requirement to work at most Jerusalem hotels. You’ll notice this when you order your food from the waiter or ask for a towel from the housekeeper. Shopkeepers in the hotels also speak English, and probably French or Russian. In some of the bigger Jerusalem hotels, you’ll almost feel like you’re home with all the English spoken in the hallways.
Once you exit your hotel, and head towards the city center, you’ll still be surprised about how much English, and to a lesser extent, French, that you hear on the streets. In Zion Square, the modern pedestrian hub of the city, you’ll hear more English spoken than Hebrew. It’s the big meeting place for Anglo youth who spend their year program in Israel. Even the shop owners, like those in the Jerusalem hotels, speak fluent English. The name of the game today is customer service, even in Israel. If it means speaking the most common language in the world, then shopkeepers learn the language. Russian or French tourists might have a harder time communicating, but it still can be done.
More adventurous souls can learn basic Hebrew words and phrases by buying a Hebrew phase book at one of the city’s bookshops or gift shops at anyone of the major Jerusalem hotels.