First of all, you need to know that Friday is the first day of the Israeli weekend. But, it’s not just that. It’s also the day to prepare for Shabbat, the sabbath, and even if you’re not religious, you’re going to have Shabbat dinner with family and/or friends and you need to buy food, flowers, and baked goods. But, there’s more. Schools are open on Friday (essentially half a day) but many adults have Friday off from work. How cool is that?
To say that Tel Aviv bustles on Friday is an incredible understatement and today has been a gorgeous sunny day. And, a great day to shop for your Purim costumes! (Purim is a Jewish holiday where everyone dresses up in costumes and parties. Kind of like a Jewish Halloween,and it’s in less than two weeks). All over the city there are pop-up costume stores. Which one should I get? Can’t wait to celebrate Purim here.
Today we walked over 12,000 steps (my third day here with over 10,000 steps- not exactly the norm for me!) First we walked through the Nahalat Binyamin crafts market, which is held very Tuesday and Friday where there are wonderful arts and crafts of all kinds and entertainment, including street dancers and classical musicians. When we returned this way in the afternoon, it was wall to wall people!
We walked to our old neighborhood to our favorite felafel joint and then to Dizengoff mall to the Friday food fair to buy food for Shabbat. Such a great place! There’s stall after stall of prepared foods- Russian, French, Persian, Moroccan, Iraqi, Japanese, etc. and many of them certified kosher. So much fun but we bought enough food for the Israeli army. Anyone want to come for Shabbat dinner? It’s Iraqi food in honor of our Nova and her wonderful family we acquired as ours by marriage.
Now we’re sitting in the sun on the promenade on Rothschild St. opposite Independence Hall where Israeli statehood was declared in 1948, watching half of Tel Aviv walk and ride by. It’s peaceful, joyful, lovely. I’m so happy to be here even though the political news here makes me crazy. Racist Jewish parties are allowed to run for election, but radical Arab ones aren’t. Bibi tells lies as adeptly as Trump- we watched a funny satirical political show that was just about his lies! Sound familiar?? The only good thing is we’re much less immersed in the horrible political news from home. Pick your poison!
Signs this isn’t your grandmother’s Tel Aviv ( or in other words the Tel Aviv of my youth here in ‘68-69). High rise buildings everywhere next to 2-3 story old buildings, very visible LGBTQ proud presence (although the term queer is not used here), lots of tattoos and upscale tattoo parlors, menacing motorized scooters and bikes on the sidewalks and streets, Asians and Africans speaking Hebrew, every kind of ethnic food restaurant possible. What hasn’t changed? I’ve seen more families with babies on the street today than I see in six months at home. Israelis love babies and young children and they’re welcome everywhere. It’s Friday, and every third person is carrying flowers to take home for Shabbat. And, there are still too many young people smoking!
I leave you with two photos. One to show you spring is beginning here and I promise it’s coming to NJ soon, and one to show you a heartwarming sticker on the fence of a dog park. Love your neighbor as yourself. May it become a reality here and at home. Sending love and Shabbat shalom.