When to say “Shalom” (and when not to)

A recurring trope in Hollywood films and American TV is that when Jews meet or part with each other, they say “Shalom!”. This is an amusing fallacy, based on the premise that all Jews are Hebrew-speaking Israelis—which is not the case.

In fact, even native Israelis rarely greet each other that way.

In my talk about Arabic Hebrew: How Israelis Really Speak, I point out that this myth is similar to how, in American film and TV productions in the 1950s and ‘60s, native Americans (or “Indians”, as they were called back then) would always greet each other (and white men, in particular) with the word “How!”

In reality, there are only three situations when Hebrew speakers greet each other with the word Shalom!:

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