Tel Aviv, Israel: The Beach and the People We Met
Tel Aviv is gorgeous. It is a huge bustling, modern city, on the Mediterranean Sea. It has everything you could want or need, with the unique Israel flavor to it.
We stayed in Tel Aviv for our entire week in Israel. Other cities we visited were just day trips.
Most Israelites are Jews, but not necessarily religious Jews. We heard that a lot in our time there, not just for Tel Aviv, although it is definitely more secular than many parts of Israel. Multiple tour guides explained to us, “Most Israelite Jews are Jewish by race. They are not really religious.”
I looked up the exact statistics online. I found these from jewishvirtuallibrary.org.
74.7% Jewish population
Walking around Tel Aviv, the city felt very diverse. You pass many Orthodox men wearing a yamaka, but you pass by even more that are not wearing one.
You will also see Arabs, tourists, and nuns. In certain parts, you see many Muslims, in other areas, not so much. They also have many foreign workers from all over the world.
The Tel Aviv beach was by far the most interesting people-watching place I have ever been to in my life.
Some of it you wish you had not seen, like the 60-something-year-old man nonchalantly washing his man parts inside his Speedo, right there in the beach shower.
Some of it is more pleasant, like the countless shirtless Israeli men running on the jogging path and the sweet group of nuns, dressed in head to toe black, putting their feet in the water.
And some are hilarious to me, as in the young girls taking a zillion selfies of themselves on a beach chair.
Some it will make you blush, like the small group of 20-something gals walking in front of me and my husband in their thong bikinis. Go away, girls, I can’t compete with that!
So yeah. Interesting place.
Someone in our group actually got hit by a bicycle, probably a motorized one.
What? Motorized bikes that are not motorcycles? Yes. I don’t know how to explain it to you except they look like regular old bicycles, but with battery packs or something.
Alan and I walked around Tel Aviv a little together, but the lion share of my Tel Aviv adventures were actually with my friend Julie. Both of our husbands were busy working, so we took on the city together.
Later on in the trip, we made another friend, Belinda, she is American too, and she joined us. Well, actually, she’s Canadian, but that’s a whole other story.
This was a true small world story. Alan ran into Belinda’s husband in the hotel lobby, a man Alan had not seen since his time in Afghanistan, 6 years ago!!
After Alan and I hung out with our old/new friends, we got into the elevator, with one other man, and rode up to our room. Alan commented, “Wow, it’s a small world, isn’t it?”
The other man in the elevator happened to be an Orthodox, yamaka-wearing, Jewish man. He smiled at us and replied:
“What we say here is that it’s a BIG world, with an excellent CEO.”
And what could we say, except, “Amen! Amen!”
You might notice the rainbow umbrellas in the photo. That was officially the gay beach, an active area since it was pride week.
I loved the moments that I had in my room, simply to sit on my balcony and STARE, and read my Bible, and pinch myself, thinking, ” I cannot believe I am on this adventure.”
When I opened my Bible to read I was delighted to find that even though I have been reading in Romans, that day’s reading was still about Israel.
11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace….. Romans 11: 1-6
Julie and I spent days walking around Tel Aviv.
We visited shopping malls, mostly. We even visited the gigantic local market, which they call “the Shuk.”
The Shuk was so insanely busy, I did not take any photos. It was mostly food, but there were also areas of it where they sold clothes and just about anything you could think of, all outside. I’ll talk more about the shopping on my next post.
This was such an amazing cultural experience. In so many ways, it was just like America, and in so many other ways, it was nothing like America.
I’m telling you, if you get a chance to take a big overseas trip, go to Israel. Israel will not disappoint.