Allow me to amend that. I love all of Israel. From North to South, East to West, disputed and recognized, I am fully in love with this land of ours. I could wax poetic about Hebron, yammer on about the Golan Heights, even muster some nice sentiments about Haifa. But when it comes to Tel Aviv, I am not sold. Normally I just shrug it off as something I'm just not that into, like brussels sprouts and the New York Mets. But last night, when I mentioned it in conversation (with an entirely Tel Aviv-ian group of people) I was forced to explicate what I did and didn't like about Tel Aviv in bullet-point format. I kid you not. For every point I made, my inquisitors made a counterpoint explaining why I was wrong and how Tel Aviv is actually so awesome. And while I admired their tenacity and obvious pride for their city, you can't force me to like brussels sprouts or the Mets! I don't like them! Don't sell me on their nutritional value or David Wright- I am aware, and I am not impressed! So what exactly are my gripes with this perfect specimen of a modern Israeli city, you ask. Here they are, in no particular order.
A lot of who I am, both as a person and now as an Israeli, is national religious. It is difficult (but surely not impossible) to live the life I want to in Tel Aviv. I dress the wrong way ("Sleeves in the summer? Gross!"), I eat the wrong foods ("We sell Bacon!"), I have the wrong political outlook ("You like Naftali Bennett? Are you insane?"), in short, I am the Tel Aviv nightmare. Add to this the swamp-like quality of the weather ("but only March-November!") and the questionable aesthetic/architecture, and it's a tough sell for me. Even the process of getting there from ulpan (bus from ulpan-->Jerusalem central bus station (beautiful and well-kept)--> TLV Central bus station (horrific and terrifying)-->bus or sherut to wherever I'm headed) is a huge undertaking, and therefore only done sparingly. To be fair, it's pretty awesome that the trip from the 2 biggest cities in Israel is under an hour; can you imagine getting from NYC to LA in that length of time? But it is still time, and money, and so going to Tel Aviv is always an experience.
|(Kosher restaurant that isn't falafel? Had to document it!)|
So let's get to the benefits, shall we? After all, this is Israel, the Jewish Homeland, right? There must be some things I like about Tel Aviv. Well, yes there are! First, I like the place it holds in Israeli history- what only about one hundred years ago began as sand dunes near the ancient Jaffa port has become one of the major cities in the entire Middle East! That's super- duper impressive! I also like the people- some of my favorite people in Israel live in Tel Aviv, (including my soul sister Natalie, who is the mirror Tel Aviv image to my Jerusalem one) and some of the most interesting people-watching you can imagine. And of course, I enjoy the beach. As much as I can sell you Jerusalem, I can not create the Mediterranean Seashore in central Jerusalem. And that, Tel Aviv, is a big ol' point in the plus column. No question.