A Janglo in Tel Aviv: Final thoughts from the big city

Zev Stub takes a break from the comforts of Jerusalem's Rechavia neighborhood to experience a faster pace of life in the city that never sleeps.

By ZEV STUB
May 26, 2011 11:56
2 minute read.
Layla Lavan

311_white night. (photo credit: Joanna Paraszczuk)

My wife and I are a little bit sad to be leaving Tel Aviv today, heading back to Jerusalem after ten days of vacationing and working in the city that never sleeps. Relaxing on the beaches, watching the non-stop parties on the streets, and meeting with local entrepreneurs and activists has been as inspiring as it has been pleasant. But as an old friend reminded me last night, Tel Aviv is just an hour's ride from Jerusalem. We'll be back plenty.

As I said when we arrived here last Sunday, one of my main missions for the visit was to get more in touch with the local Anglo communities and their needs. Here's what I found:

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Anglos in Tel Aviv are very different than their Jerusalem counterparts. A lot of single, secular Jews are moving to Tel Aviv, excited to enjoy life to its fullest here. As a whole, they are much more ambitious and career-oriented than their Jerusalem counterparts, and are often more connected to their iPhones than to tradition. They have fun when they are exercising or partying, but they also complain that Tel Aviv is a lonely city without a strong sense of community. Thankfully, organizations like Nefesh B'Nefesh and the Jewish Agency seem to recognize the problem, and are developing more social programming to help them integrate into society. Representing my site, www.janglo.net, I also held some initial talks with different organizations about ways that we can help do  more here.

Another demographic group is a small-but-growing pocket of religious singles and young couples who are moving to Tel Aviv to be closer to work. Shabbat is a huge advantage for them, because a growing number of Anglo-centric congregations have come up in the past few years, providing a sense of community and belonging that others lack. However there is still plenty of room for improvement. I was shocked to learn that the concept of having guests for shabbat meals, deeply valued in most Israeli communities, is virtually unheard of here. Several synagogues are making efforts toward encouraging hospitality here, and some host communal meals of their own, but most agree that building a greater culture of welcoming guests is one of the community's most important challenges. Here too, Janglo hopes to be more involved in the future.

In short, I'm very optimistic about Tel Aviv as a place for more Anglo Olim to live, and I think  transitions there will get easier as time goes on. People keep asking me if I'm planning on moving to Tel Aviv after this trip. I'm not. Jerusalem is my home and my community, and I wouldn't think of leaving. But the White City has been a pleasure to visit, and I'd recommend that everyone gets to know it a bit better.

The author runs www.janglo.net, Israel's largest online community for English speakers.
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