Posted by Iris Hami on Sep 12, 2013 2:32:28 PM
Tel Aviv, My Home Town.
Mark Twain once said that “Everyone was allowed to love two cities, San Francisco and their own home town. While I am very fond of SFO, I am afraid I have to differ from Mr. Twain as Tel Aviv is and will always be my only love for what the city is, what it represents as well as what it can/will be. Only 104 years “old” Tel Aviv was officially “founded” by the Jewish community on the outskirts of what was the ancient port city of Jaffa. Remember Jonah and the Whale? He sailed from Jaffa.
Clearly, Tel Aviv outpaced Jaffa rather quickly but, to me the combination of the two just makes it all so much more special to me. As a true Tel Avivi (plural: Tel Avivim) I am impressed by the ancient and ultra modern coexisting so magnificently on the Central-West Israeli Mediterranean Coastline. The second largest city in Israel that houses 42% of its population. While one cannot compare anything to the majesty of our Jerusalem, Tel Aviv is simply a spectacular contrast of what is possible in a “state-of-the-art” modern city still flexing its muscles.
I find it fascinating that while Jerusalem is still not officially named the capital of Israel by the United Nations as well as other countries, Tel Aviv has the most foreign Embassies, is also home to the national Stock Exchange and the economic hub of Israel. The reality is that Tel Aviv has the second-largest economy in the Middle East after Dubai. Tel Aviv gets 2.5 million international visitors annually and is the fifth most visited city in the Middle East and Africa. What more can I say about that?
All this is just great in my book but mostly, I love Tel Aviv for what it offers the young and forward looking “thinkers” in the world. I mean, history is very important but, Tel Aviv is the future of Israel. (Now, this is just me talking, remember) It’s sometimes called “The Big Orange” or “The City That Never Sleeps” but, a ripe, perfect, Israeli Orange does not compare with anything else one can consume anywhere. Many cities never sleep but none in the style of Tel Aviv. It’s the major center of culture and entertainment. My home-town is home of the Israeli Opera and the Philharmonic Orchestra, most important theatres. Nightclubs and restaurants abound as do varied cuisines served amid royal opulence or better for me, from clean/friendly street vendors.
Yes, I believe Tel Aviv pretty much stands alone in an incomparable sense. “The Next Hot Destination for Fashion” has its own Fashion Week since 1981. Our museums are unreal! First you need to understand that Israel has more museums per capita of any other country. You guessed it, the biggest and best are in Tel Aviv. In sports, we are the only city with three football clubs in The Israeli Premier League.
I could go on and on and on, but I am leaving out the best part! (At least to me) With short mild winters and long hot summers, Tel Aviv is the perfect resort beach-town and I grew up with different degrees of sand between my toes. The beaches of my city play a major role in our touristic and cultural scene and we are generally listed among the best beaches in the world. I will attest to that.
I like to think of it this way: There is Israel, there is Jerusalem and then there is Tel Aviv. I thank God every day I was blessed to be born in two of them. But, again, that’s just me.