Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Look for the Shnitzel & Fries

Tamir's Shnitzel on Givatay'im's main street (53 Katzenelson St.) is a rare find, busy from 1:00 to 3:30 PM)

The attraction of a hot shnitzel in a baguette as an alternative to a burger is hard to miss. Just about any good shnitzel eatery is a rare find. I am not sure why, but for the most part, very few independent eateries specialize in this classic Israeli dish. The Shnitzel (wikipedia) is a favorite with kids and soldiers. Here is a bit of popular Israeli food background. Maybe because prepared frozen food or chicken's popularity, this dish is one of the mainstay of schools and homes. Frozen sections are filled with large packages of shnitzels ready to heat in an oven or fry in a pan. In schools, kids from kindergarten to high school seem to have shnitzel on a weekly basis. As far as soldier visiting home on weekends or parents visiting military base, shnitzel and humus seems to be the most "well packed" popular dish. It usually goes with bread (or inside a pita) and canned pickled salads (olives, pickles, hot peppers, carrots). If you have a great place for shnitzel, not just in Tel Aviv, please add a comment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Israel's Individuality Dilemma: Unique or Global?

Used books stall on Dizengoff reflects Tel Avivian's thirst for English literature: pulp to art, cheap to boutique... an identity crisis? Some say no, some are still at the horn of the dilemma.
One of the discussions among Tel Aviv residents heating up lately is the city's identity. Israel's open acceptance of individual voices is straining some people's patience. Giving people "space" or "a stage" to voice their beliefs in public is an age old idea. Israel's early founders, built Tel Aviv with this idea in mind. But over the years, this has turned the city into many separate communities (sometimes called "bubbles"). To outsiders it is confusing sometimes. From some people's perspective Tel Aviv looks like a modern European city. That's the business, lifestyle or even retail shopping side. To some it looks like a Mediterranean city from old days on a Spanish, French, Italian or even Greek coast. That's the tourist, culture or even leisure side. To others it looks like a busy metropolitan hub of Israel's central region. A mix of business, government, culture and residential parts. This makes Tel Avivian's at a loss for one identity "image". More on this identity dilemma in future posts.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fragile Israeli Confidence or Real Secure Feeling?

Almost empty King George (Ha'melech George) street on a weekday morning. Tel Avivians see the fear in empty streets, shops, cafes and public events. Is this a peek of "things to come"?
The last week revealed a hidden side of life in Tel Aviv. Israelis are teetering between smug secure confidence and (almost) complete fear. Something we have not talked about in many months. A seemingly tectonic change after a one man attack in the heart the city's commercial section. Some see this as a change in the security forces' ability to keep Tel Aviv's "bubble" calm and confident. A day after the capture and killing of the terrorist, media channels started buzzing with opinions (on what should be done next). While outsiders (especially Palestinian supporters) tend to see Israelis as secure and fearless, this one incident tells a different story. Israelis are secure and fearless as long as their immediate surrounding feels secure. This fragile reality is somewhere in the back of many Tel Avivians' minds. The tensions many feel, but mostly keep to themselves, is real. Some are quiet not to alarm people around them. Some assume revealing their true fears is playing into the attacker's aims. Terror is thought to pray on our inner most fears. Killing three in a city of 600,000 is not a true act of war. What's next? It's hard to say. Opinions are firmly split between more visible security (patrols, show of force) and less visible or more "normal" (i.e. hidden) security efforts. Will Tel Aviv turn into an always "watched" metropolis (i.e. taking a page from the London example of massively equipping every street with a hidden security camera)? Or will the city turn into a cold-war like "secret agent" Berlin? This small revelation of hidden life in the city is just getting started. Let's see where it goes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Gawkers, Ignorers & Mourners

Memorial candles and photo of terror victim on Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, January 5th, 2016

I don't like writing or even discussing the painful events in Israel. There are Israelis which literally flaunt deaths and terrorism. As if it's a justification for something we are doing. But if you have gone through a painful event, or even been close enough to one, you change somehow. Israelis who lost children, parents, brothers or even cousins, tend not to flaunt the death of their dear ones. Deaths are public events just when they first happen. Yet quickly they become private affairs. No mother, brother or husband can share or bring into their life an outsider. No matter how close or how relevant their situation. Few endure the pain and make new relationships based on their loss. For the most part, once you lost a loved one, you want quiet after the first shock has faded. Three days after the deaths, the street slowly starts coming to life. A French couple, looks like tourists, hanged a small sign in solidarity to Tel Aviv residents. Seems appropriate in light of the events in Paris a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

3 days, 2 dead, 1 killer

Memorial candles and funeral notices at 130 Dizengoff, site of the two killings, January 2nd, 2016
I do not write about politics and security in Israel. This comes by choice, made over eight years ago. There are so many stories about politics, Palestinians, terrorism and fear to occupy anyone full time. In the social media (I follow Twitter & Facebook) there are more stories than anyone can follow. This is more so on days, like earlier this week, when there is a big terrorist event. But at the cost of telling the great story of Tel Aviv and modern Israel, I do realize how some of my "mundane" everyday writing get's lost in the noise. Terrorism and the fear for dear life is a real aspect in our lives here. The last three days, many parents in N. Tel Aviv (some in the most luxurious neighborhoods) have kept their kids at home, away from school. The fear of an attack by the terrorist hiding somewhere in the city has gripped us. The search for the killer is reported constantly, to the point where some don't want to hear any more. If anyone ever wonders how fragile the feeling of security here, this event is a sure way to explain our deep dark fears. Simply read the news stories from the last three days. Dizengoff street, one of Tel Aviv's busiest commercial strips, is practically deserted. I have seen more people on the street on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) than this morning. This fear and avoidance of an area after a terror event is common. Where a memorable terror event took place, we usually say "near such and such place, where the 199# event took place". Seems like a crazy way to live. But somehow people get used to it and eventually ignore the craziness of it all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Intel's 2004 Guide for Doing Business in Israel ruffles feathers

From the book "International Business: Theory and Practice" by Ehud Menipaz, Amit Menipaz (Google book preview)

A long time ago (probably as far back as 2004) Intel published guidelines for "doing business in Israel". Israel's bloggers hit on this document recently when a photo from a trade-show presentation was posted on social media sites. Apparently the document was written by an outside consultant to help American visitors from Intel to get along with Israeli technologists and business managers. Intel has benefited tremendously from their Israeli operations. From chip design to semiconductor manufacturing, Israel has been one of the more productive and certainly innovative locations for the company. That said, Intel has also been very much and American company. This was true for the company until recently, when the company started to branch out around the globe. What Israelis did not worry about a decade ago, is the image of how we do business and cooperate with foreigners. Intel can somehow guide their workers to work better with Israelis. Some foreigners from around the world may not feel the need to do so. I wonder if companies like Yamaha (from Japan), Samsung (from S. Korea) or ABB (from Sweden) will guide their managers when dealing with Israelis. Comments welcome...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bialik House Light Show - Mosaic Projection

Mosaic and tinted windows historical collage reflected at the Hanukkah Beit Bialik light show

The Bialik house light show lasted ten minutes and repeated over and over. Live it was an exciting presentation. The blend of Hanukkah, an historic location and projecting light made for a unique experience. Tel Aviv's city hall with artists residents put on shows of all kind. This one is just one example of the artistic and cultural life in Israel. During the holidays there are so many attractions, attendance is spotty, sometimes disappointing. But it's nice to see people out and enjoying the night life. Even for an off beat show at a hidden city street.

Bialik House Light Show - ON FIRE

A house on Bialik street "set on fire" at the Hanukkah light show, Beit Bialik, Tel Aviv, Dec. 9, 2015

Light show on Bialik house (actually the community center building at the end of Bialik street two doors from the official history Bialik house) attracted a few dozen viewers. The show itself was a light projection on three buildings. This building was "set on fire" with light at the beginning of the light show. The picture's colors are a bit "hot" but the effect is true to life. Enjoy! (see also previous post on the light show)

Light Show ON Bialik House - TLV

Menorah projected in a light show at Biyalik house, Tel Aviv (9-Dec-'15)

Hanukkah is one of the most celebrated holidays in Israel. The children are on vacation from school. Sufganiot (essentially stuffed doughnuts) are the sin food of choice. Music and shows (mostly for children) are put on celebrating in many styles the holiday of lights (musicals to puppets to drama). Last night, the city of Tel Aviv put on a projected light show on the Hayim Nachman Bialik house. This historic house, renovated to original grandeur, was the actual home of the Jewish people's first "national poet" - essentially giving the writer and poet an honorary position after the founding of the state. Bialik street has gone through an amazing renovation phase, today looking very much like the 1920s to 1940s when it was built and a center of Jewish culture. Bialik street is a short, but situated in south Tel Aviv which is going through a major renovation phase. Pictures from the work being done will follow. More pictures of the light show to follow (also look for my Facebook and Twitter posts).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mr. Gaga - Documentary on Ohad Naharin's Dance Career

Last night we saw Mr. Gaga. A wonderful documentary about the career of Israeli dance and choreographer Ohad Naharin. The story starts with his early career as a dancer in Israel, then in New York. This covers two thirds of the time. The last part is on Ohad's return to Israel and his work as a choreographer and director of Israel's Batsheva Dance Company. This is a wonderful peek into an incredibly creative Israeli and a small and wonderfully unique modern dance in Israel. Highly recommended if you are interested in the modern culture of Israel.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wok Republic on Ben Yehuda

WOK Republic on Ben Yehuda, brisk business on a Saturday night |

Tel Aviv's fast food restaurants are popular, especially at night.Where you find young couples and singles, you will cheap fast food. Cheap in Tel Aviv is 30 to 50 shekels (US$ 8 - 13) for a meal. Wok Republic on 177 Ben Yehuda is one of the many fast food restaurants dotting north Tel Aviv. The place has a gritty graffiti design style with funny urban characters and scenes on the wall. On this particular Saturday night (after the Sabbath) - about half of the orders were called in to go. A few tables in the back are packed most nights and give the feeling of a "hole in the wall" somewhere between Hong Kong and Beijing. Despite the high-rent (fairly upscale) location, you can find enough on the menu for a one dish plus drink for 50 shekels. Chicken curry on rice was well seasoned, the portion small with lots of fresh hot steamed sticky rice filling half of a takeout Chinese carton. Noodle dishes are popular, served in an interesting flat cardboard box that "opens up" like a plate. If in the neighborhood and in need of a quick meal, it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Modern Klezmer at Simchat Torah

Modern Klezmer kept the horns & added electric guitar and synthesized drumd / @ DAVider 2015

Klezmer music is not what it use to be. At it's roots in eastern Europe, a small band of musicians playing "Klei Zemer" (literally in Hebrew & Yiddish "Musical Instruments"), shortened to 'Klezmer', was comparatively tame to today's rocking new-age style electrified hard beat version. Then it was eastern European folk music adapted to a small group of roving musicians bringing dance music to small community, shtetl events (holidays, weddings, bar-mitzvahs).  The clarinet is still here, front and center, kept for a traditional sound, but losing it's solo leading role. What is new is a heavy synthesized drums, electronic keyboards and a prominent electric guitar beat. Jewish Orthodox events in Israel are often accompanied by a loud rocking group of musicians. The melodies are new, pushed by heavy drum beat and guitar-keyboard combination, closer to mainstream rock than to anything coming out of 1880s eastern Europe. Find your favorite rock-pop-Jewish-Orthodox music on YouTube and comment below.

Simchat Torah Celebration in Givatay'im

Modern and traditional mix at a Simchat Torah celebration / @ DAVider 2015
Simchat Torah [Wikipedia / HE] is a celebration of the start of reading the Torah. The weekly reading of the Torah in Jewish synagogues starts a new cycle. This event is celebrated all around Israel with dancing and sometimes big musical events. This year, the town of Givatay'im (probably with some influence from a newly elected mayor) put on a big event. At the clearing in front of Givatay'im mall (the main commercial attraction in the town). A "modern Klezmer" band followed a short prayer and a political speech from the mayor.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Stencilled Graffiti Near Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv

Some small graffiti stencils are designed to promote a product or a message / @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's Graffiti artists are not always out to show their artistic creativity. Some are simply out to promote a product or even an event (a musical concert, street or public gathering). Hidden in side alleys and walls away from the main foot traffic, these small stencils are interesting commentary of some of the hidden culture in Tel Aviv. This small stencil was painted on a wall a block north of Dizengoff Center. One of Tel Aviv's largest shopping malls (and oldest ~ most established one).

Graffiti in Tel Aviv's Gordon Beach

Graffiti in walkway (clearance) above Gordon beach and pool, Tel Aviv beach @ DAVider 2015

Tel Aviv's walls have their share of Graffiti. A few years back street artists were going at it with energy and creativity. To Israelis, Tel Aviv, the big city, is sometimes a world class metropolis. But in reality, the city is too small and tame in international terms. The city also does not have large rundown sections with empty walls ready to be painted. With Israel's continuous economic growth and leveling social support policies, Tel Aviv also does not harbor a large poor population who is constantly at odds with the established government and commercial institutions (government agencies, public institutions and corporations). These factors make for a relatively tame, and some would say, small graffiti activity (at least visible in most public spaces).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Big and Small Heroes in Israel: Arik Einstein & Rav Ovadia Yosef

Arik Einstein (not related to the famous German physicist Albert) and Ovadia Yosef were honored with large funerals. Einstein fans also held a memorial concert in Tel Aviv's Yehoshua park (also referred to as park Ha'yarkon). Both recent local heroes are very much honored and respected but not in a classical or historical sense that David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin or even Theodor Herzl were honored. Yet Israelis are still creating new heroes with real admiration. In an age where most other societies seem to be looking for direction from leaders, Israelis simply keep on admiring. But is this leadership and admiration real? Do leaders today still inspire and guide in a way leaders in the past? Ones who lead to freedom, justice, change and most of all national self confidence? Well, it turns out, even in Israel, after achieving great deal of self identity and freedom, with people who were unable to feel and practice in freedom for centuries, there are still desires for more equality. There are desires to develop culture and independent thinking, especially now since Israelis have founded a state and government and embryonic culture.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Remembering After the War: The Children of the Winter of 73

"We are the children of the winter of 73 ...

"You promised a dove, an olive branch, 

"You promised peace, at home, you promised spring, blooms  "

This controversial song is raising old memories and complaints about the balance between hope and reality. When the two clash, like during and after the Yom Kippur war, idealism about peace and promises to children, seem like something cruel or at least out of touch with reality. Then there are the voices who claim to never believe the naive view of "peace next year" propaganda songs (especially from IDF musical groups). Regardless of your views or beliefs, the wars in Israel, hard and painful, Israeli military bands perform incredibly nice, to the point of "too nice" (syrupy sweet some would describe them) for a band that suppose to motivate troops to the front. Here in Israel you will not find anything close to a Russian army chorus belting out propaganda songs a-la-World War II. You will also not find the European or American brass bands leading a long march of well heeded marching units. So what is this Israeli style army bands suppose to do?


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Soldiers' Stories: Exciting-Normal Life Revealed

One of Israel's unique life is the military service. Almost everyone serves in the military. Not many in elite front-line units. Military life is not at all what foreigners imagine. For the most part it breaks down to training in everything from shooting guns to fixing airplane electronics to painting tanks to training others how to obey orders, take responsibility and march in formation. One way to learn about Israeli life is to read diaries and blogs of soldiers. Even on Facebook and Twitter you can find daily updates of soldiers' life. It is interesting how “normal” these stories turn out to be. While learning how to be a sniper is not that normal in an eighteen year old's life, still, Sarah Drill (see: My Life in Israel ) blog reveals many of the hopes and dreams of an American girl doing military duty in Israel. Hint: she becomes a sniper and a sniper instructor (probably not what her mother imagined her life to be as a “good Jewish girl” from America).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Modern Living in an Ancient Land: Echoes from the Past

Colonia Aelia Capitolina map, a Roman city built by Caesar Adrea nos in 130 CE on Jerusalem's ruins. A reminder of the ancient in modern Israeli life. (image from WikiPedia (היסטוריה_של_ירושלים)

Modern Israel is a new creation in an ancient land. In Israeli's daily life, there is a mix of the modern and the ancient at the same time. Entering Tel Aviv University's Frankel gate reveals a row of Roman statues lined up as they were guarding a procession of students entering campus. The Eretz Israel Tel Aviv Museum* gardens are dotted with ancient Hebrew and Roman mosaics. Family law is based on Rabbinical legal practices going back 1,000 year with basic values taken from the Torah, Talmud and Mishnah. Israelis regularly quote biblical and Talmudic verses in daily conversation. The speaker's richness in planting a fitting quote shows their religious knowledge and even where they grew up. Jerusalemites and Tel Avivians often compare their biblical and Talmudic knowledge. Jerusalem speakers, living in a more orthodox city use more biblical phrases. Tel Avivians using fewer but with more meaning sometimes. Less you use something, higher it's importance.

Living a modern life in an ancient land brings tensions between the two. On one side Israelis want to live in today's world with all the benefits and pleasures of a modern world. On another, Israelis from the earliest immigrants to today, want to discover and preserve ancient culture, values and practices. The land is filled with archeological digs, stringing a continuous path in time like breadcrumbs in a barren land. Culture and knowledge of ancient writings is continuously studied and interpreted to our modern language.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update on Iben Gvirol and The Coffee Bean Closure

At ''The Gregg Cafe'' in Dizengoff center, the manager's dog has it's own ''personal'' table. Not a common and acceptable practice, it is still telling of the informal feel of Israeli cafes. Not so with ''The Coffee Bean'' and regular laptop workers in 2009 / © 2010

About a year ago bloggers in Israel made some noise about working in cafes. They were grumbling about cafes being hostile toward people who sat and worked using laptops. Some cafes at the time did not offer free WiFi or did not have AC plugs to connect laptops power supplies. Tel Avivians love their cafes and to some it is their living room and office apartment extensions. A virtual (or actually real?) home-office away from home. In central Tel Aviv, where apartment prices are beyond belief, many people live in tiny apartments. Some work from home, that means sometimes working from the local cafe when they meet customers or clients. The American coffee chain " The Coffee Bean (& Tea Leaf)" had a nice big cafe on Iben Gvirol in front of Gan Ha'ir commercial complex. I wrote about The Coffee Bean's up and down policy toward laptop users. Around 2008 the Israeli high-tech sector collapsed. No new investment in start-ups caused companies to lay off thousands of workers. These were software engineers and professional support workers (salesman and marketers, human resource, administrators) as well as related professionals.