Over the last two years I spent each week preparing for a bi-weekly top 5 column
about food in Tel Aviv. Therefore, as I set off on a new adventure
abroad, I couldn't think of a more fitting way to commemorate my time
here and the city that I called "home." The city that became a symbol of
so many things to me and most importantly the city I've always hated to
love, but love with every part of me.
1. The City Cats
Here's to you Tel Aviv...
you know me well, you'd know that I have quite a disdain for felines,
but there is something endearing and special about the Tel Aviv cats.
They are as much a resident of the city as any other person and each
crew of cats define our neighborhoods as anything does.
play the important role of keeping the trash and mice at bay, but the
most important role that the cats play is to remind us all how to chill
out. Day or night, hot or cold, rain or shine- it's not an unfamiliar
site to see a cat spread eagle in deep slumber on city sidewalk, curled
up on a bench, or snuggled on a window sill. These feisty felines
illustrate the art of relaxation and the beauty of letting go.
Ultimately it's the kitties that symbolize the true thread of Tel Aviv
culture: "Work hard, play harder, and relax hardest."2. The Day Nights
brother came once to visit me in Tel Aviv and after spending a week
between the days and the city's night life he proclaimed, " They call
New York the city that never sleeps, but in reality Tel Aviv is the city
that never sleeps." One of the most incredible and unique things about
Tel Aviv is that you can go out of the house any time in the night and
the energy around you feels like it's daytime.
It's not the city
that never sleeps only because there is a thriving nightlife, it's
literally as if the night time is equivalent to the day. People of all
ages fill the streets to go on a walk, meet for coffee, or have a late
night dinners. The lack of division between night and day creates a flow
in life that feels different than being anywhere else in the world.
3. The Beach
the matkot players along the coast, the beautiful, young residents in
their tiny bikinis and swim trunks, the bustling beach cafes, and the
temperate, clear water- it's no surprise that for all of the country's
attractions, the Tel Aviv beaches stand out. For the city's residents,
it is truly an oasis.
Good day, bad day, long, short, hard or easy, hot
or hotter, the sea is always there, always calming, always refreshing
and it's what makes a great city incredible.4. The Food
it’s the juice stands located every thirty feet, one of the thousands
of cafes in every corner, doing a falafel taste-off, browsing Shuk
HaCarmel, or trying the newest high-end eatery, in Tel Aviv one can
experience the depths of the culinary scene and meet some of the most
inspiring people through food.
Since almost all Israeli produce
is grown locally, the quality of much of the food is extraordinary.
Furthermore, since Jews hail from all parts of the world, in Tel Aviv
you'll find some of the most authentic Iraqi, Yemenite, Ethiopian,
Persian, and Polish restaurants, just to name a few. Couple that with
this "new" country trying to create it's culinary voice and you have so
much inspired cuisine all around you. From the Israeli breakfasts that
come with a basket of house baked bread and ten different condiments,
salads and cheeses, to high end chefs experimenting with Middle Eastern
and international flavors, Israel truly has offered a dynamic culinary
experience.5. My Friends
Gurion once said that he was born twice in his life, once during his
actual birth in Poland and a second time when he made aliya to Israel.
Although I am far from the Zionist Ben Gurion was, I must agree that I
was truly reborn in Israel. This rebirth happens in Israel, because I
think that there is no other place in the world that challenges you,
your identity, your faith, and your spirit quite like Israel does. From
the political, to to the cultural, to the social, to the economic, to
the day to day life, there are not many other places that will make you
ask the questions about war, identity, love, life, death, spirit, and
relationships quite like Israel. Whether you're completely left wing or
completely right wing or somewhere in the middle, it's a challenge to be
here on a moral level and questions will rise inside of you that you've
never thought to ask before.
The people I have met here:
Israeli, Arab Israeli, Palestinian, immigrants, and mostly many of my
friends who made aliya from the US, England, South Africa, France and
Australia, have been some of the most courageous, strong, deep, and
adventurous people I have known. It is with these friends that I did my
soul searching, that I struggled, that I learned, and that I grew up.
Together, hand in hand, we steadily and tediously ascended towards a
higher being, asking ourselves the difficult questions, finding the
difficult answers and working to make peace with it all. Living in
Israel provides people with realities that foster in understanding about
life, love and true friendship. Judith Goldstein is one of the founders of TasteTLV.com
and a lover of food, culture, travel and life. She will be moving to
Italy in September to pursue a second degree in Food Studies. If you'd
like to follow up on her year living in an Italian village and learning
about food you can follow her blog at http://jujugypsy.blogspot.co.il/