Taglit takes Tel Aviv

Some 3,000 Taglit-Birthright participants are going to be let loose to enjoy the Tel Aviv urban experience next week.

A TAGLIT-BIRTHRIGHT group climbs down the slope of Masada (photo credit: TAGLIT-BIRTHRIGHT)
A TAGLIT-BIRTHRIGHT group climbs down the slope of Masada
(photo credit: TAGLIT-BIRTHRIGHT)
ANYONE WHO has business in the areas of the Tel Aviv Museum, Rothschild Boulevard, Sarona, the Suzanne Dellal Center, Habima Theater or the cinematheque is warned that these places will be very crowded on June 7, 9 and 10, because 3,000 Taglit-Birthright participants are going to be let loose to enjoy the Tel Aviv urban experience.
They won’t be in all these places at the same time, but just as a rose is a rose is a rose, a crowd is a crowd is a crowd. It’s going to be particularly crowded on June 7 and 9, when participants will congregate at the Tel Aviv Port for a performance by Hadag Nashash.
This particular Birthright mission includes the 500,000th participant, Molly Dodd, who works at Fox News and is on her first-ever visit to Israel. Both her parents died, and at a very young age Dodd was isolated from her roots; only a year ago did she begin to find her way back, when she discovered her mother was Jewish.
Dodd was raised in a Methodist family and considered herself Christian. It was only when she grew up and moved from Florida to New Jersey that she happened to go to a garage sale run by an Orthodox Jewish community near where she was living. When she entered into conversation with one of the women there and told her that her mother and grandmother had been Jewish, the woman told her that according to Jewish law, she was also part of the faith. This was something of a shock, but after she got past it, Dodd began to explore Jewish teachings and was adopted by several New Jersey Jewish families, who helped guide her on the road back to her heritage.
She will be at the Wohl Auditorium on the evening of June 10 for a grand finale celebration, at which the 3,000 participants will honor Birthright founders Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, through whose unstinting generosity and vision tens of thousands of young Jews have discovered or rediscovered their Jewish identities, and in numerous cases have decided to build their futures in Israel. Both Bronfman and Steinhardt are longtime donors to many causes in Israel, but this investment in Jewish outreach that brings so many young Jews back into the fold is for them among the most rewarding of their philanthropic endeavors.
It was only this year that Dodd became affiliated with anything Jewish. “I am discovering Judaism. It has opened up this whole new realm of possibilities for my faith, and I am on a never-ending journey,” she says.
IT’S HARD to tell whether the enormous crowd that showed up for the opening of Urbanica at Cinema City in Rishon Lezion was there for the price or the personality.
Lest anyone be mistaken, Urbanica is not the name of a movie; it’s the brand name of a budget-priced clothing chain partowned by supermodel Bar Refaeli. Located in the G Section of the premises, Urbanica covers an area of 2,500 square meters, and sells clothing, accessories and cosmetics at very competitive prices. With an investment of NIS 12 million in the company’s Israel flagship, 10,000 people came to see Refaeli cut the ribbon indicating the store was open for business.
Within less than a week, 55,000 people have walked through the store and sales exceed NIS 1 million. A second store is due to open at Big Fashion in Ashdod before the end of the year, and five additional branches in other parts of Israel are planned for 2016.
LOVERS OF klezmer music can warm their hearts this coming Saturday night, June 6, when the Tel Aviv branch of Yung Yidish hosts a great klezmer celebration with the Shpilberg Klezmer Ensemble, along with star Yiddish performers Sveta Kundesh, Avishai Fisz and Mendy Cahan, the founder of Yung Yidish.
Those not familiar with Tel Aviv will not have to leave the complex of the central bus station once they get there, because Yung Yidish is located inside it – on the fifth floor from the 108 Levinsky Street entrance. Most of the artists in that part of the terminus work out of storefront studios; Yung Yidish is at Studio 5008.
If you’ve never been there before, it’s like walking into the house of a scholar in an old European shtetl. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get a glass of schnapps and a piece of herring, and maybe a slice of kugel.