Graffiti of Tel Aviv

This says, if I l forget Jerusalem it is because of Tel Aviv. It's a play on the original psalm, If I forget Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

This says, if I l forget Jerusalem it is because of Tel Aviv. It’s a play on the original psalm, If I forget Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

There is fantastic graffiti in Tel Aviv. It’s everywhere-from the most upscale areas to the most destitute. There’s murals, images that are repeated all over the city, funny comments, political statements and sometimes non-sense. The city is not visually beautiful (I describe it as a mix between Tijuana and Miami) but the street life is fantastic and full of character(s).  Below are photos of some of my favorite ones. Continue reading

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Matkot Part 2: The Museum

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The sign reads welcome to the Hall of Matkot

After my excursion to Ting-Dong Dagan, where Matkot paddles are made, I ventured up the road to Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv, to visit the Museum of Matkot.  Located in the second story apartment of Amnon Nissim, the apartment/museum is a shrine to all things matkot (and it turns, out, music and cats, too). A small man with a soft raspy voice excitedly greeted me and proudly walked me into his expansive apartment.  Two large rooms with towering ceilings were covered with matkot paddles, matkot trinkets, matkot shirts, matkot trophies (how, I asked if there’s no winner? These were just gifts, I was told) and non-usable artistic matkot paddles (marble, crochet, painted with landscapes, Elvis’ face, glued on seashells, etc), and matkot gifts from fans around the globe.  I also received a history lesson on matkot paddles and walked through an informal timeline of the development of matkot paddles’ designs, from heavy wood to today’s carbon. Continue reading

Matkot: Ting-Dong Dagan

Ting-Dong Dagan

Ting-Dong Dagan

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. Continue reading

Chatoolim

Cat house near me

Cat house near me

Chatoolim is the Hebrew word for cats. And, they’re everywhere here. What started as an idea (a terrible one) by the British to introduce them to eat rodents has created a massive cat population across the country. And, I might add, a massive cat culture (both human and cat, alike). The country’s couple of million feral cats can be found hiding in bushes, lounging on car roofs, waiting patiently underneath restaurant tables, enjoying food and water bowls in front of countless supermarkets and stores or simply climbing trees. And the most fortunate ones that are adopted can be found enjoying a more comfortable life indoors.  Near my home, one extremely generous person has built a cat shelter with shade as well as large trays of food and water (see photo). Continue reading

National Yomim

IMG_4183Last week was Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) and today is Yom HaZicharon (Memorial Day to honor and remember those killed while serving in the army and by terrorists). For each day, sirens wail across the country for a minute. Literally everything comes to a standstill (unless you’re not a Zionirst in which case you on Yom HaZicharon, you davka continue with your day during the sirens).  Buses, cars and trucks all stop and engines are turned off.  Everyone stops whatever they are doing. Everyone stands motionless and bows their head. The nursery across the street from me that is filled with kids playing outside all day is suddenly quiet. The barking dogs and screeching cats in my neighborhood cannot be heard.

I find it an extraordinary and powerful experience for the nation to collectively stop, remember, and honor. It’s serious and respectful. War and terrorism are part of everyone’s lives here. There’s collective grief, trauma and sorrow that are reflected upon, discussed and processed as a nation on these days via events, social media, news, and socially from the political right and left, religious and secular, Zionist and anti-Zionist, Arab and Jewish (who fits into which categories is not always neatly delineated). Continue reading

Fouta: Lost in Translation

A fouta by Balthazar and Rose

A fouta by Balthazar and Rose

Before moving here, I bought some beautiful foutas from a neighbor in Los Angeles. Foutas are Tunisian sarongs that have evolved to to become fashionable beach towels/scarves/throws. They’re often striped with fringes on the ends. I bought a few of them colored with shades of blues and white stripes.

I would often take a fouta with me to use at the pool. I happened to be at the pool one day when it was quite busy with lots of religious women.

Tallit. c/o Google images

Tallit. c/o Google images

While drying myself off in the locker room with my fouta towel, I noticed a few people staring at me.After a few minutes, I realized that my fouta looks A LOT like a tallit (prayer shawl). I assume they were horrified at what I appeared to be doing. My pool towel is now just ordinary, plain, bulky and a single-color.

I just have a question….

"Excuse me. I only have a question." Graffiti in Neve Tzedek. Tel Aviv

“Excuse me. I only have a question.” Graffiti in Neve Tzedek. Tel Aviv

As is generally known, Israelis don’t mince their words, are direct and impatient. I usually love it! The chart below is an excellent guide for those unfamiliar with the cultural differences between Israelis and other nations. (In short: Israelis and Japanese are polar opposites. To my surprise, Israel surpasses Italy in confrontational and emotionally expressive citizens).

So, how does this translate into my daily life? Continue reading