My Tel Aviv

I woke up on the morning of New Year’s Eve, in the early hours of the last day of a long year, to find my favorite city highlighted in the New York Times’ travel section. A 36 hour multi-page snapshot of Tel Aviv, which detailed a young, modern, tech savvy city dressed with an ancient, history telling heartbeat. A recount of a city of insurmountable energy, of vitality, of bustling markets, of night clubs, of beachside promenades. A peak into techie dreams and liberal crowds, of a 24 hour labyrinth of partygoers, of war, of calmness, of everything in between, of a Tel Avivian euphoria embodied in her streets. A White City…she never stops.
On the last day of the year, I was proud to read about a city that has her perfect imperfections, but is always energized, a place where the energies of life can be felt each day. Reading a simple article, my memories came alive of a city where historical values of one day, of one year, of one past, are carried into the next day, next year, next generation.
Less than 36 hours later, on the morning of New Year’s Day, the news came, the attack on Dizengoff street. Great memories are created on Dizengoff, a simple street dotted with over-embellished wedding dresses, crowded cafes, juice stands, pricy kids boutiques, and bookstores. A street where the elderly walk alongside hipsters, where cyclists can outnumber cars, where the time of the day is of no importance. My heart sank, as I knew that Friday routines, the chaos and the comforts, the smells and the sounds, the turning of a busy day to a calm sundown to a much later party scene, were horrifically disturbed and paralyzed. The news began broadcasting the attack and the notifications started lighting up phones, computers, and news outlets everywhere. The hopes of a peaceful new year, of a calm shabbat, started to become more and more distant. My heart pained and my stomach ached.
At that moment, in the beginning hours of 2016, I knew that Tel Aviv had been dispirited. Her serenity had been traumatized. Her schools were overly guarded. Her shops were closed during daytime hours. Her citizens were terrorized. One monster, like too many times before, had crippled her people, and injected her with panic and anxiety. She was shaken.
At that moment, like too many times before, I sympathized and empathized with my Tel Aviv.
This is not her first attack. She has witnessed unspeakable violence before. She has a high resilience. But, on the first day of a new year, on her Dizengoff sidewalks, those near and those far felt the pain in which terror evoked in her.
At that moment, like too many times before, I sympathized and empathized with my Tel Aviv.
I felt her pain, her confusion, her frustration, her disbelief, and her anger. That, on the first day of a new year, on the first day of resolutions, goals, and wishes, terror got its win. For us in Israel, for us in America, and for those elsewhere in the world, the pain has become numb. An entire city on lockdown has become too commonplace, too regular, too routine. The stories, the pictures, the reactions of innocent children, have become too well-known, too imaginable, too visible.
At that moment, like too many times before, I sympathized and empathized with my Tel Aviv.
I sympathized and emphasized with her because I knew that no matter how strong she claims to be, no matter how resilient she tries to be, and no matter how much life she has within her, on that day, and the days after, her streets were less crowded, many of her kids did not attend school, many of her parents were scared, and many of her citizens’ lives were and still are plagued with curiosity, unanswered questions, and the reality that terror has not been beaten.
But at that same moment, like many, many times before, I felt energized with my Tel Aviv.
Because I, like many others, know her streets. She may be bruised, but she is not broken. Her pieces will be put back together. Her streets will fill up once again. She will stay strong. Because, she can and she must. She will not be disabled and poisoned. She heads into a new year with grace and strength and spirit. For she has that magic, that White City groove, and although I may sympathize and emphasize with her, I know she will not be defeated. Her streets, her people, her future, will continue. Her streets will continue to let life and light enumerate them and she will refuse to let darkness define the destinies of her people. For after all, she’s the White City…she never stops.