Jerusalem may have the gravitas, but Tel Aviv has the fun. This Mediterranean city—a.k.a. The Bubble—is remaking itself as a hub of progressive art, ambitious cuisine, high-end shopping and matkot by the sea.
Author Joe Keohane Photography Ronen Goldman
Etgar Keret, filmmaker and fiction writer
“The first things I look at in a city are its children and dogs. Children and animals will always tell you where a place’s secrets are. In Meir Park you can meet such children and dogs, as well as elderly people, all taking a break.”
Michal Ansky, owner of Port Market/Tel Aviv Farmers Market
“Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv’s Soho, is packed with designer stores, jewelry studios and small, chic places like Nina Café. Be sure to catch a show by the Batsheva Dance Company at the Suzanne Dellal Centre.”
Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv
“We recently completed a makeover of the Habima National Theatre. One of the nicest surprises was the square in front, designed by local artist Dani Karavan. It’s become a hangout for parents and kids, who love to play among all the beautiful flowers.”
Guy Sharett, a journalist turned linguist, has a unique method of teaching on his StreetWise Hebrew tours. He leads his charges through the bohemian Florentine neighborhood, noticing things: lost-cat fliers, graffiti, a 1930s manhole cover. He translates their words from Hebrew, and then delves into deeper meanings: the political signifiers in the graffiti, the cultural implications of a pet owner’s cry for help. The hope, for Sharett, is that people will come away with not only a grasp of Hebrew, but also a sense of the city that has wrested this ancient language into the modern age.
Sharett also runs tours of Florentine’s world-class street art scene. The heart of this community is The Workshop, a few blocks of squat commercial buildings that have been transformed into a vibrant canvas by local painters, some of whom have won broad acclaim. While he photographs a cartoon octopus that has appeared overnight, it becomes clear that his particular teaching method isn’t just good for engaging students; it keeps him sharp as well. “The walls keep changing,” he says. “I have to be on my toes.”
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