The concept of culture in everyday language provides people with a way to evaluate behavior. A person who adapts his behavior to social expectations, or who has high social status is considered “cultured.” The concept is linked to the arts, literature, music and dance. Most people take the concept very seriously; the political position of a social group can be weakened by declaring that they have folklore, but not culture, when discussing their food or dance traditions.
From an anthropological viewpoint, culture is a complex ensemble of knowledge, arts, law, ethics, leadership and other skills that were acquired by an individual and shared with others in his society. According to this definition, every society has a culture. Humans create culture – this separates us from beasts of burden. We differentiate between material culture (related to concrete objects that people make) and conceptual culture (related to philosophies, ideas, and symbols that humans create).
Culture is learned by the individual in a process called socialization. The process starts at the moment of birth and continues until the individual dies, although the most significant periods of socialization occur in childhood and adolescence.
Culture is a language that we learn to understand and to speak. Because it is based on general agreement in each society, cultural traits differ between societies, between ethnic groups, and evolve over time. The function of culture is to organize how we think of the world and to assign significance to the reality we experience.
People from many cultures and countries have settled in our region – Mate Yehuda. Immigrants from Argentina, Bulgaria, Kurdistan, India, Hungary, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Morocco, France and Yemen have all made this area their home.
Each ethnic group brought their cultural traditions that influence their community life. Each culture has left its mark on how Israel developed. They worked the land, built houses, planted forests, tended orchards, vineyards and herds of cattle. They raised chickens and grew flowers, and coped with security problems and with feelings of isolation and foreignness. Their everyday lives were spent trying to assimilate into Israel’s established population and its culture. Only during holidays and special events could their families return to the traditions they had learned from their parents.
The exhibit in the Heritage Center shares parts of our life that emphasize the unique material and conceptual culture of each ethnic group.