Saturday, July 19, 2008

Old Men in Their Underpants

Saturday's New York Times has an interesting profile of Tel Aviv called Seizing the Day in Tel Aviv. It describes the city (in mostly upbeat, positive terms) as an appealing mixture of people and places. Some excerpts:

That’s the separated beach,” James tells me matter-of-factly, pointing at a group of some 30 Orthodox men on the edge of a placid, gorgeous Mediterranean not far from the Hilton...Then, pointing at a different group of men just 50 yards down the sand, James adds, “And that’s the gay beach.”

"I’d earlier been told... that I’d find “old men in their underpants” on the beach in front of the Dan Hotel...So, in front of the Dan, I search for boudoir chic."

"All these new people and buildings add to the city’s fundamental charms: good flea markets, terrific food and lots of witty and complicated natives."

"Tel Aviv is half Iran, half California; it's a synagogue meets a sushi bar.

When I lived in Israel I used to love visiting Tel Aviv. I'd take the bus to the Central Bus Station (which I always found creepy) and then head down to Dizengoff Street and spend a few hours window shopping, walking around the Dizengoff Center mall, and stopping at one of the outdoor cafes for "Hungarian Blintzes" (I'm Hungarian, and trust me, these blintzes were not.) Then I'd walk a few blocks down to the beach and sit on the boardwalk watching the Israelis play madkot in the sand. It's been many years since I've been to Tel Aviv, I have no doubt that it has changed enormously since then. But reading the article reminded me of what a fun, quirky city it can be.


Rafi G said...

I used to think of Tel aviv as a dirty, congested, smoggy city. I hardly have time to go there, even though I work right next door.

Recently I have had a few occasions that I needed to go through Tel Aviv to take care of certain things or be certain places. I was really surprised by how nice it is with a great urban atmosphere.

Baila said...

Tel Aviv reminds me a bit of New York City. It has energy. Sometimes I wonder at all these Jews who seemingly have little connection to their Judaism, but then I think, they live in Israel and I guess for some, that's connection enough.

I was just in TA today, at the bus station. Why is that place so sleazy, seedy, disgusting, yucky, dirty and nasty???? It really gives you a terrible impression of TA.

Garnel Ironheart said...

If you think the new Central Bus Station is ikcy, just try to remember what the old one was like. Ah, the nostalgia of the smell of urine surrounding the tatooed, mohawked Swedes lounging near the X-press bus to Yerushalayim.
Like any city, one will find good and bad in Tel Aviv. It all depends on your agenda.
For me, the best pizza in Israel is at the corner of Ben Yehudah and Jabotinsky. I like the opportunity to make a berachah on seeing the Mediterranean and even though its not as glitzy as it used to be, Dizengoff is still a great place to walk through.
Plus, as opposed to Yerushalayim, you're almost guaranteed your cab driver will be Jewish in TA, a definite advantage.

RaggedyMom said...

Until I was five, my days were mostly spent on the beach in Tel Aviv. There is still no better ice cream than the Shoko-banana pops sold out there from the coolers the guys walk around with, strapped to their fronts.

elie said...

Yeah, I also enjoyed that article. It was a quirky side, a view from the outside. Refreshing to feel normalcy in being written up in a Travel column.

Split said...

Ah good memories spending my summers on the beaches in and around Tel Aviv. Raizy, if you're reading this, I'm trying to find your email address on your blog. How do I contact you? Check out my blog at

SuperRaizy said...

Thank you for visiting. You can e-mail me at
I checked out your blog, which I had never seen before. You've got an interesting angle on the whole "shidduch crisis".

Benji Lovitt said...

Nice article overall. Shows people that Tel Aviv is a pretty normal city. Well...normal for Israel. : )