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What is Israeli Chutzpah?

Are Israeli people pushy? Kind of (at 2:07). But there’s a reason.

Israelis don’t wait for things to happen. They make them happen. That’s why there’s so many great ideas and such great innovation that’s come out of there, the Startup Nation (Israel has the most tech startups per capita of any country in the world.)

So, sometimes what comes across as pushy in Israel, is simply what’s known as ‘Chutzpah Israelit’. There’s no exact translation or identical behaviour in Western culture, but the closest you’d get is what we’d call audacity. But it still doesn’t quite capture it.

Chutzpah Israelit is just knowing what you want and going for it. It’s about not fucking around, and not being afraid of the consequences either.

If you go to a party in Israel, you don’t wait for someone to introduce you. It’s kind of expected that you’ll either introduce yourself, or just insert yourself into the conversation. Timidness and shyness are not valued traits in Israel. Self-assuredness and confidence are (actually they’re almost expected, especially in men).

Another thing that’s greatly valued is intelligence. And what these guys do is an example of how much it’s valued, across all ages.

It’s a group called Wize, and they organise nights out. ‘Wize nights’. But their nights out are different. They’re lectures in bars. Lectures with the some of the best and brightest people that Israel’s got.

Instead of just going out to a bar to get hammered, Wize believes people want more than that. So they organise nights out in pubs, where you can listen to the best professors in Israel and the world, inspirational people in art, science, technology (including Nobel Prize winners).

So far, they’ve organised over 450 lectures across 12 cities, and the events sell out all the time. They also have over 24,000 followers on Facebook. For a population of 8 million, that’s pretty sweet. I think what Wize is doing is something that people all over the world want. Including here in Australia.

Chutzpah Israelit also has something to do with urgency. In Israel, people know how to relax, and party, and how to have a good time, and all that. But they also understand how tenuous life can be, that life could be short, and everything can easily change in an instant.

Most people there get that everyday counts. So if you’re going out for a beer, while you’re at it, you might as well learn something and expand your mind as well. Because every night counts too.

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