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

Green and Other Bikes

Tel-o-fun

Photo c/o Google images

After living in Los Angeles for many years, I love living in a city where I do not need a car! My main forms of transportation are by foot, communal city bikes and bus. The communal city bikes, Tel-O-Fun, are neon green bikes dotting corners throughout the city.  They’re clunky, squeaky and I love them because they are everywhere and I don’t have to worry about it getting stolen since they belong to…everyone! Though they aren’t as cool or as fast as the electric bikes that many more people ride (and are a threat to the green bike system!).

Regarding bikes: Initially, I didn’t understand at first why most bike lanes are ON the SIDEWALK! (mind you, this doesn’t include all of the scooters that are parked on the sidewalks and seem to also take liberty to drive on the sidewalks at times).

Continue reading

Dogs Everywhere

June at my local library

June at my local library

I’ve quickly learned a few things about having a dog here:
-they’re welcome virtually everywhere. June, my 60 pound lab mix, has already visited the local library, an art show, countless stores, restaurants, beaches, and the airport. I also learned that I can take her on a sherut (a small private bus) as long as she can sit on my lap.

June waiting to greet arrivals at Ben Gurion

June waiting to greet arrivals at Ben Gurion

-Dogs are generally welcome at “social events” which is why I’ve seen them at political rallies, outdoor Shabbat services and shuks (outdoor marketplaces)
-leash and poop “laws” seem to be mere suggestions
-some dogs take themselves out on walks as they please without an owner in sight
-nearly all dogs here are beautiful mutts