A (not so) funny thing happened at the USA embassy today as we were updating one of our kid’s USA passport. On the form it asks for your child’s place of birth. We wrote Jerusalem, Israel.
The (very friendly) employee at the embassy must process hundreds of these passport requests every week. He asked us a few questions, in Hebrew since the local processing staff at the embassy are Israelis. He reviewed the form in our presence to make sure everything was filled out correctly. He then asked what city was our child born, and we responded “Jerusalem”, he very quickly and matter-of-factly crossed off “Israel” from the form, so that it was plain to see.
I wonder if there are other cities of birth in the world for which the country is left blank on the passport application of our beloved USA?
Herzl would be proud. On Friday, Tel Aviv staged the 11th annual Gay Pride Parade. The newspapers report that over 20,000 attended and the groups represented in the event included Bat Kol – Jewish religious lesbians (weren’t they called ‘Orthodykes’ once?), Transgenders for Change, the Israeli Arab lesbian group Asawat, among others.
The event capped off the month long celebration of Gay Pride month in Tel Aviv, which was an official part of the 100 year anniversary of Tel Aviv’s inception celebrations.
Growing up back in the USA, I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing of Rebbe Nachman or the Nachman M’Uman graffiti. Breslov Hasidim were those guys who came around asking for donations and handed out booklets of Breslov teachings. In Israel, you can’t go far without running across at least one of the ubiquitous Nachman slogans.
(Tens of) Thousands of Breslevers and Rebbe Nachman lovers travel yearly to Ukraine to Uman, the burial place of this Tzaddik. The Breselov Hasidim believe that there’s some magic in saying three times “Na, Nach, Nachma, Nachman M’Uman” as a verbal amulet for good luck. They also make sure to spread the landscape with painted graffiti, bumper stickers, and posters with this saying.
I remember one day I was driving in Tel Aviv and saw a hillarious bumper sticker “Na, Nach, Nachma, Nachman Bialik”, who was the secular poet and author of the early to mid 1900’s, and is considered one of the founding “literary” founders of the State of Israel.
Here’s one of the often-seen Nachman M’Uman signs in South Tel Aviv, not too far from the beach.
Nearly 10,000 runners lined the streets of Tel Aviv this past Sunday night as the Tel Aviv version of the Nike Human Race was run. The race began at Kikar Rabin (Rabin Square) and ended at the Sportek in Park Hayarkon.
The atmosphere was electric. The runnners were requested to wear the Nike red race shirts (with the number heat transfered), and North Tel Aviv looked like a sea of red shirts. The organization of the race was fantastic, although the water distribution along the route was a bit messed up. (Most intermediate to advanced runners wouldn’t necessarily drink at a 10k distance, especially at night).
The only spoiler was the incredible Tel Aviv humidity. Although the course was flat, this runner was about a minute or two off pace due to the high humidity. Likewise, the shear amount of bodies moving within the marked paths was nearly impossible to run your own pace without having to move latterally or to fly over the masses in front of you.
Here’s a photo of your’s truly crossing the finish line.
All in all, a big Kudos to Nike, the race organizers, Tel Aviv, and to my fellow 10,000 runners, for a wonderful evening.
Here’s the Nike Running website in Israel where you can get more information about this event.
If you are looking for a great way to spend a couple hours with your family this summer, head on over to Mini Israel, an outdoor walking tour within an enclosed park that showcases all of Israel’s popular sites in miniature. The park is located just off Highway #1 near the Latrun exit. The current admission fees are 69 NIS per adult and 25 NIS per child (under 5). If you have a Leumi Mastercard, you can get 1+1 admission, but that will only work for 2 tickets max.
In the summer, the site is nearly impossible to traverse without protection from the sun. Be sure to come prepared with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and plenty of water. The park overs free sun umbrellas that you return when you leave. There are also water mists in several locations in the park, so you can cool off before going to the next venue.
Sderot Rothschild and Ben Ziyon is the center of Tel Aviv culture. There’s a potpuri of theater, restaurants, parks, and an assortment of bauhaus architecture that is world-renowned . At the north end of Rothschild you will find the Habima Theater, Heichal Hatarbut, and Gan Yaakov.
Here’s a street scene from Rothschild:
On Sderot Ben Ziyon you can almost see down to the Sea via Bogroshov:
On Bogroshov, there are nice shops and restaurants leading down to Ocean, with an occasional sex shop mixed in… 🙂
I sometimes wonder if the dichotomies found in Tel Aviv are lost on its residents.
Let’s get in the mood for Summer. Tel Aviv is a summer-city. It’s hot, folks go outside. They’re at the beaches. They’re at the parks. They’re trying to escape the constant humidity and heat prevailing in this sunbox.
In the spirit of Spring’s arrival, with Summer fast-approaching, I’ll be posting some photos of various locations in Tel Aviv.
Here’s some shots of Tel Aviv’s beautiful white-sand beaches. Cool-off!
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In the heart of Tel Aviv is the municipality building. There is a plaza right next to it. Today that plaza is known as ‘Kikar Rabin’ or Rabin Square (it used to be Kikar Malchei Yisrael).
There is a parking lot that separates the plaza and the municipality building. On the night of his murder in November 1995, Rabin was standing in the entrance to the parking lot after appearing before a Pro-Oslo-Peace rally.
Yitzhak Rabin was the only Prime Minister of Israel to be assassinated.
In 2001, Israeli Cabinet member and Minister of Tourism, Rehavam Ze’evi (Zeevi) was gunned down in front of his hotel room in Jerusalem by an Arab terrorist.
Here is the location of Rabin’s assassination. It remains a silent memory of a place where history was changed.
The Spray painted slogan at the top says “Slicha” (Forgive Us”)
The Shuk (HaCarmel Market) in Tel Aviv is situated in the southern part of the city bordering on Alenby Road. Thousands of locals and tourists flood the shuk every day.
Walking through the shuk you can hear just about any language spoken: Street vendors are hawking their wares in Hebrew. Tourists and foreign workers can be heard speaking in English, French, German, Asian languages, etc…
Here are some un-edited photos of the shuk. I am presenting them here in the way you would experience the shuk if you were to walk through it yourselves. There is a constant rush of people, sites, and sounds.
Tel Aviv is long and skinny (as are many of the men and women in these images…). Tel Aviv has a several mile beach that runs along it’s western border. The weather in Tel Aviv is actually a meaningless term for 8 months of the year. The temperature is simply hot and sticky. The humidity runs at 90% and higher every day, with temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s Celsius (90’s + Farenheit).
Tel Aviv is Israel’s truly cosmopolitan city. Tel Aviv residents have some collective chip in their shoulders almost as if it was a national duty to keep Tel Aviv a staunchly secular European-style city. We’ll provide more examples of this phenomenon in other posts about this great city. Now, back to the beach…
The beach is a natural attraction. From early in the morning until dusk, you’ll see sun bathers, kids in soccer games, ‘matkot’ paddle ball games, and swimming. You’ll also see wind surfers, para-sails, kayakers, and generally folks of all ages having a good time. Most of the tourist hotels are right on the beach, just on the other side of the road. Vacationers fall out of their rooms right onto the beach.
Here’s some general photos of the beach. Each thumbnail opens a larger image.
Israel is spread not sparingly with monuments on the scene of terrorist attacks and for fallen soldiers.
This monument sits just meters from the busy coastal road in Tel Aviv next to the Dolphinarium disco nightclub where on June 1, 2001, twenty one Israelis (mostly teenagers) were killed in a suicide bombing, and over 120 were wounded.