A common street greeting, often said in an excited voice and coupled with a strong handshake and/or hug, is ahalan. Ahalan is a shortened form of the Arabic greeting “Ahalan wasahalan” which means “family and easy” i.e. “You are like family and your entry to my home will be easy.”

Middle Eastern culture places great importance on honoring guests and making them feel at ease in one’s home, and this saying is the essence of that tradition.

Israelis just say “Ahalan” and to the inexperienced observer, it seems like they are saying “Hey there!”  Israelis often accentuate the first two syllables and draw out the last one, so it sounds more like “a-ha-laaaaan!”

It is worth noting that no Sephardic wedding in Israel would be complete without the song “Ahalan Wasahalan” being played by the DJ:

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