A Snapshot of Life in Tel Aviv Today: From Our Congregant Stacey Spector

Thank you to Stacey Spector for sharing this descriptive piece about her current stay in Israel.  

Shalom from Tel Aviv:  It is Saturday morning, and our fifth day in Israel.  What is clearly different this morning from any other day of the week is the absolute stillness of the streets and the lack of jack hammering on the endless construction projects in Tel Aviv (“TA”).  Apparently, there is a running joke among Israelis that the national bird is now the “crane” (as opposed to the bird).  Israelis’ weekend consists of Friday and Saturday so everything is closed today, and we are about to embark on a walking tour of Bauhaus buildings, of which there are many (at least 4000 built in the 30’s and 40’s by German architects who emigrated to what was then Palestine).   

We have happily settled into our apartment in a neighborhood called Neve Tzedek. We are on the 12th floor of a large modern building, and have a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  By foot, the sea is about 15 minutes away, and there are many Israelis (and tourists) swimming and boating there each day.  Our view is nothing short of glorious, and we, like the Israelis, eat all of our meals “al fresco”.  Every day has been sunny in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, which apparently is typical of TA, which boasts 300 sunny days per year.

Surprisingly, French (and not Hebrew) seems to be the more dominant language spoken among the residents of our Building.  In this year alone, 5,000 French Jews have emigrated to Israel (a full 1% of the French Jewish community), some make aliyah while most seek a safe refuse and foothold outside of France.

By TA standards, NZ is an old neighborhood established in 1887 (i.e., 22 years before the 1909 founding of TA) by a group of families seeking to move outside of the over-crowded ancient city of Jaffa.  These 60 families constructed low rise homes with red colored tiled roofs much in the style of Art Nouveau and later Bauhaus.  NZ deteriorated into a slum area in the middle of the 20th century, but was brought back to life in the early 80’s.  Today, it is more like Greenwich village/Soho with chic boutiques and bistros but with the Mediterranean feeling of red clay roof tiles and white washed century old buildings.

A few of our favorite experiences thus far have been: Seeing the chic Israeli women hauling an “old ladies” cart and haggling over prices at the Shuk Ha Carmel (market); Visiting the Yitzhak Rabin Center that chronicles Rabin’s remarkable life with the most cutting-edge technology; and Climbing on the ancient Roman aqueduct in Caesarea at sunset.

So far, we have not seen or felt any signs from the Gaza conflict that ended only two months ago.   On Monday, we travel North which will include the Galilee, the Golan Heights, and the Syrian and Lebanese borders.

Sending you much love.  Stacey