Arrivals: From Vienna to Tel Aviv

For Arie Rav?, a strict vegan and animal rights activist who made aliya 13 years ago, educating Israelis and feeding them are intertwined.

arie rave 88 298 (photo credit: Meredith Price)
arie rave 88 298
(photo credit: Meredith Price)
* Birthplace: Vienna * Aliya Date: March 16, 1994 * Occupation: Vegan Restaurant Owner * Family Status: Single with 7 cats and 1 dog For Arie Ravé, a strict vegan and animal rights activist who made aliya 13 years ago, educating Israelis and feeding them are intertwined. In April 2006, he opened a hole in the wall vegan restaurant on Rehov Dizengoff called Buddha Burgers. This summer, after outgrowing the tiny snack bar that overlooked a gaping sinkhole brimming with trash, Ravé is opening a larger, cleaner Buddha Burgers on Rehov Nahalat Binyamin. "We're in a better location, we have a lot more room and a large patio, and we're not far from the bars," says Ravé, who sprinkles the restaurant with leaflets about why eating vegan is healthy and adamantly refuses to let anyone smoke in his establishment. "The bar will serve shakes, smoothies and light drinks, like margaritas, so people who want to lead a healthier lifestyle can enjoy a night out in a non-smoking environment." FAMILY HISTORY In 1939, Ravé's Jewish grandfather fled Austria to avoid the Nazis. He left behind an unwed, non-Jewish woman and their only daughter, Ravé's mother. "After my real grandfather fled, my grandmother married a family friend to give legitimacy to her daughter, and they tried to cover up my mother's Jewish origins because of the Nazis. We later found out my grandfather was murdered by the Nazis in 1942 after he had fled to Denmark or Sweden," Ravé says. The file on Ravé's grandfather was marked confidential, and the family never wanted to begin a messy legal process to uncover the details of his murder. "All we know is that he worked as a journalist before he fled, and that he was helping people get to Palestine from Europe when he was killed." BEFORE ARRIVAL Ravé was a precocious child who spent most of his time with his nose in a book. Until he was 12, he had no idea there was any Jewish blood in his family. "I will never forget the day my mother told me. It was after a trip to the dentist, and she said I could be proud of myself because my real grandfather was Jewish." At 17, Ravé paid from his own savings for his mother and his sister to accompany him on a visit to Israel. "There are some things you cannot explain, and when I came here, it was like a spiritual return, like I was fulfilling my grandfather's dream." UPON ARRIVAL On March 16, 1994, Ravé landed here for the second time, this time to stay. "I was the only one on the plane from Vienna weeping," says Ravé, who became a vegetarian when he was serving in the IDF and witnessed settler's mistreating the animals. "It disturbed me to eat meat after that," he says. As a resident of Azor, he started a program to neuter street cats instead of killing them. In October 2005, Ravé moved to Tel Aviv. Prompted both by the lack of fast, inexpensive vegetarian restaurants, especially those with vegan dishes, and his search for work outside of computers, he decided to open the first Buddha Burgers. "I used to test new recipes out on the dog and cats. If the cats liked it, I knew it was good. If the dog wouldn't touch it, I knew it was bad." LIVING ENVIRONMENT "I had a dream a few months ago that I lived in a skyscraper on the beach with a beautiful view of the sea but no garden. I woke up sweating," Ravé says. The most important thing about the Tel Aviv flat he lives in near Rehov Allenby is its garden. "I have to have a place for my cats, and being on the ground floor is perfect for me because I need a place to store my bike and plenty of storage room." ROUTINE AND WORK Until he found a supplier a few months ago, Ravé used to start his day with a trip to the Carmel Market and carry the day's fruits and vegetables on a bike to Buddha Burgers. Today he divides his time between making vegan ice cream, baking flaxseed biscuits with a sophisticated dehydrator, mixing veggie burgers, tasting new dishes, making sure supplies are ordered and finishing the last renovations at the new location. CIRCLE "I have some friends, but I don't have much time for them right now because I'm working so many hours," Ravé says. He spends a lot of time with his staff and customers. "I know a lot of nice people, and I would like to be closer to many of them but just don't have any spare time to devote to relationships at the moment." HOBBIES An avid athlete, Ravé takes long runs on the beach and teaches a kickboxing course twice a week. "I love sports and reading. I love going to dance performances, and I enjoy walking my dog in the city." He also classifies petting his seven cats as a hobby and says that he spends a lot of time in his garden. LANGUAGE A native speaker of German, Ravé claims that his German is currently in a very poor state. "I hardly ever speak anymore, so I have forgotten a lot." Like many Austrians, he learned English at a young age and speaks perfectly, albeit with a slight Austrian accent. He says that while his Hebrew is good, he cannot get rid of his Austrian accent. "I'm very bad at languages, but I get by in Hebrew." RELIGION A firm atheist, Ravé says he does not believe in fate and has seen too much pain in the world to believe that God exists. "God is an illusion that people need to hold onto. I am not religious, and I made aliya because I believed in the Zionist ideal to create a more ethical state. That may have failed, but it was still a good idea." IDENTIFICATION "I used to be very proud of my Judaism. I would tell people I am three-eighths Jewish, but after I came to Israel I detected some racism that made me ashamed, so now I believe that everyone is the same," Ravé says. "Being Jewish doesn't make you any better than other people." He does, however, identify himself as an Israeli rather than an Austrian. "I no longer hold an Austrian passport and I no longer have much left in Austria. I don't think I will ever leave Israel. I feel at home here." PLANS Aside from renovating the vegan snack bar, which is 10 times larger than the one he previously ran, Ravé says his plans are vague. "I don't see myself as a father, but I hope I will have time for more volunteer work with projects that help animals." He plans on staying here and dividing his time between Buddha Burgers and his seven cats. "I was always afraid of being alone, and I still hope that I will find a love story, but I am also realistic, and right now I am satisfied with my animals and putting a smile on people's faces with tasty, healthy and inexpensive food." To propose an immigrant for an 'Arrivals' profile, please send a one paragraph e-mail to: