After spending a week here, I’d go so far as to say Tel Aviv is the Mecca for Millennials in Israel.
The absurdly convenient beach access, diverse inhabitants, and countless bars, clubs and restaurants perfect for street side dining/lounging make for one of the most captivating, relaxing and eclectic cities I’ve ever visited.
It has this magical way of being bustling and busy yet completely laid back at the same time. People make time to look you in the eye and get to know you. Over an absurdly overpriced drink, you realize that connections link the entire city into this exciting maze of opportunity. Everyone has either once worked for, is currently working or has plans to work for a startup with their friend/cousin/ex-bosses’ girlfriend/etc. Possibilities for success seem endless if you are willing to crack a beer and a smile.
The city thrives on diversity. The beaches, and entire city, are scattered with tourists and locals alike, somehow cohabiting in a peaceful and prosperous way. Men walk down the street with their low hipster v-necks and a gorgeous Israeli girl on their arm. Young professionals finish the business day and change into work out gear, jogging down the shoreline, finishing to meet a few friends for beachside boozing.
Lucky for me, I got the real Tel Aviv experience by staying with an Israeli friend from my birthright trip a few years back. At first, the apprehensive feeling while preparing for this visit seemed warranted. Any time four twenty-something guys live in an apartment, it’s almost guaranteed you will see dirty laundry on the floor, a mound of dishes in the sink, and a severe lack of clean towels. But as I walked into the amazingly large, spacious 4-bedroom apartment I knew this would be different than expected. The place was bare but clean. And the roommates were some of the nicest guys I have ever met.
They were interesting, welcoming and absolutely hilarious. I was told to make myself at home and never clean because I was a guest. They were a talented bunch. Instead of spending their time off in their own corners with the TV on, they congregated in the living room jamming out to guitar sessions and played Cheshesh, a math-based board game that I picked up fairly fast. They made dinner together and I am not talking about a frozen pizza. They chopped veggies, made stir-fry and one even grilled eggplant over the stove to make a satisfying tahini-eggplant dip.
They asked me questions about my life and made me coffee. The best part was, it didn’t feel like they were doing this just because I was American or a girl. They would treat anyone like this if given the chance. But why?
Israeli’s certainly aren’t known for their manners. But this is about more than good manners. It’s a way of life these men were born into. Israeli’s have an innate sense about them to make people feel welcome. I’ve discussed this with ex-pats and fellow programmers and we’ve considered it might have to do with the military service required for all Israelis after they graduate high school.
In the military, everyone finds themselves thrown together with people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status. Everyone is equal. Everyone receives the same treatment. And from what I’ve experienced, there is merit in this system which contributes to the Israeli way. No matter where you came from, everyone deserves to feel at home and it’s your responsibility to make that happen.
One night, the guys took me to an Israeli concert in Jaffa, one of the most historical and holy cities in the world. For us, it was just a place to rock out and drink on. The group played some rasta/rock/funk beats that made us dance into the night. I looked around at the group that had so willingly taken me in and realized that Tel Aviv was a lot like these guys: interesting, welcoming and ready to party.
My new favorite Israeli band, Mercedes Band: