Israelis take to the nation’s beaches, parks after placing their votes

With most companies closing their doors for Election Day Israelis are eager to take advantage of their extra vacation.

March 17, 2015 19:29
2 minute read.
israel election

Israelis enjoy the day off on Election Day at Palmachim Beach south of Tel Aviv, March 16, 2015. (photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)

While just a brave few took to the still chilly waves on a breezy but sunny Tuesday afternoon, families came out in droves to build sand castles, play matkot and enjoy post-voting barbecues at Palmahim National Park this Election Day.

With most companies closing their doors for Election Day – as employees working were required to receive a 200 percent salary compensation – Israelis flocked to the country’s national parks, nature reserves, beaches and malls, eager to take advantage of their extra vacation.

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At Palmahim Beach, located just south of Rishon Lezion in central Israel, families and friends gathered to enjoy picnic lunches, catch up on reading and generally escape their everyday routines.

Three moms from Modi’in sat chatting and enjoying their lunch with six kids and one dog playing around them.

“Our husbands went on the Israel Trail and we’re the abandoned wives,” one of the moms, Alana Stern, told The Jerusalem Post.

“My husband got up at 6 a.m. to vote at 7 a.m. and be at the trail by 8 a.m.,” added her friend, Adina Yagod.

Acknowledging that the day off accompanying every election must take an enormous toll on the economy, Yagod said she likes the idea of spending time with family and friends after the voting experience. Whether on the beach or in the city, she explained, it is nice to have such a “sabbatical” without the “expectations” that come with routine days off like Fridays.

“I think if the politicians all did this once a month, it would all be easier,” Stern added.

Nearby, a group of about 15 late 20-somethings all came together to Palmahim from Jerusalem. Josh Katz, 29, told the Post that he also spent last Election Day at this very same beach.

“This has become a tradition,” said Katz, who voted for the Likud, while his good friend David Lewin, 28, voted for the Zionist Union.

“And they’re still friends,” remarked a third friend, Ben Levine, 29.

To the Jerusalem crew, the day off that accompanies Election Day is a vital respite from their daily routines – a day to toss around an (American) football and have fun together.

“I don’t think it’s necessary for the election, but it’s necessary to the Israeli lifestyle – to chill out,” Lewin said.

A fourth friend, Michael Klinger, 29, added, “Our first l’chaim was for another election, to have another day off.”

All in all, about 150,000 people visited Israel Nature and Parks Authority sites, with some of the most popular places including the Banyas Nature Reserve, Tel Afek National Park, Beit Guvrin National Park, Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, Ashkelon National Park and Masada National Park, the INPA said.

Back at Palmahim, children collected shells coating the damp shoreline, while teens passed around soccer balls and adults basked in the sunlight – sweaters draped over their shoulders and half-consumed beer bottles nestled in the sand.

“In our state we live to work instead of working to live,” said Adam Kfir, a 27-yearold Elbit Systems employee, lounging in sunglasses and sharing a hookah pipe with a friend.

“We voted in the morning and we want to make the most of the vacation that we can,” Kfir continued. “There is a little sun, so we came to the beach.”

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