Matkot: The official Israeli game that is simple, humble and is true to the nation’s socialist roots (what other game requires you to be dependent upon the other person, ie your opponent, and has no rules and no final outcome?!). I would also argue that since Israelis love their beach culture (where Matkot is played)–and are significantly more laid-back and less competitive than Americans when it comes to beach time, exercise and pretty much any fun activity–that it really is the ultimate Israeli game. It simply involves hitting a rubber ball with a paddle. I grew up playing it in the US (though we called it Kadima-not sure why), which is why I was SO excited to go to the Ting-Dong Dagan–a Matkot making shop in Tel Aviv.
Situated in the Florentine neighborhood, the Dagan family is churning out hand-made wooden matkot paddles for all levels, along with more expensive and fancier carbon paddles (whose technology is from the Israeli airforce). Called the Ting-Dong Dagan store (Ting Dong because, I was told, this is the sound made when hitting the ball), it’s a workshop filled with all stages of matkot paddles and finished in many colors. There are matkot mobiles, chrome matkot paddles and matkot paddles nailed to the outside, dangling from the ceiling, stuffed into the rafters and pretty much everywhere else. (Oh, and they also make Sheshbesh, aka backgammon sets, and they are stamped with Ting-Dong Dagan).