Sabbath in the Big City

Posted: December 15, 2006 in christianity, Israel

In the morning we got up and had breakfast and did a little bit of shopping before we left with Ros and Lottie to go to Tel Aviv. I was a little sad to be leaving Jerusalem. My trip was coming to its end and I had experienced so much. I was ready to go home and to see my wife whom I missed dearly, but somehow this place had also worked its way under my skin.

Around 1 PM we got in the car and drove the hour or so to Tel Aviv. We were to meet up with Zohar and spend the day with her. After getting lost a few times, we finally got dropped off at the right train station. Today was the first day of Hanukkah as well so the atmosphere was a little festive. At the train station these Orthodox guys jumped in front of us with a big warm smile and gave us some candy and a booklet in Hebrew. I needed that warmth from an Orthodox after what happened on the bus.

We finally hooked up with Zohar who wanted to show us that not all Israel is like Jerusalem. She wanted us to spend more time in Tel Aviv to get a well rounded view of the country, understandably. Tel Aviv is just like any big city in the US. Except that it more or less shuts down every Friday night through Saturday night. Tel Aviv reminded me of LA a little and SF a little as well. We booked in at a hostel 2 blocks from the beach. Zohar took us around and showed us a little bit of the city, took us too an arts and crafts open air market, and we talked a long time about Israel, the Orthodox, the Arabs and the political situation in general. Zohar is something of a secular Jew with Iraqi background. She’s educated and would fit in easily in a place like SF or Berkeley. I definitely got an insight on how the non Orthodox jew thinks and feels.

A number of times she pointed out places that had been struck by suicide bombers. One was a coffee shop near our hostel and another one was a blues bar by the beach. She said the strikes came from Jaffa, which was within walking distance and was primarily Arab. She said that during the intifada, the Arabs in Jaffa hit the streets and threw rocks and messed up alot of property in Tel Aviv.

We then walked down into old Jaffa, which has alot of old historical buildings still, and was actually pretty nice. After a few hours of walking and talking Zohar invited us to her house to meet her family. We caught a cab and went up into their place. It was a warm house and her parents were very nice and polite hosts. We chatted with her father for awhile and ended up listening to music. I introduced them to Mariachi’s and Ranchero music from Mexico and they actually liked it. Zohar said it reminded her of the gypsy music she likes alot. This went on for awhile until I started to feel like the third wheel, what with Zohar and Rafa doing the whole “back rub” thing, so I said I was tired and that I’d better go back to the hostel. I’m sure they were thankful. I wished them a good night and said good night to her family as well. Her aunt said something unusual to me. She said that kindness emanated from me. I said she didn’t know me yet, just ask my wife. They all laughed and I ducked out into the chilly night.

Back at the hostel the wind was really picking up but I fell right to sleep.

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