Tel Aviv-Jaffa 2010

So many stories to Tel

November 9, 2010

In a recent article on Tel Aviv, the city was declared a sure contender for Miami's Middle Eastern counterpart. This finding reflects beautifully the familiar ambivalence about Tel Aviv. Since its early days, this city of hyperactive Mediterranean style has been both mesmerising and infuriating visitors. An analogy with America's (admittedly similarly free-spirited) party town simply does not do justice to the Tel Aviv that I, as tourist-turned-immigrant, have fallen in love with and which I believe will inspire new visitors.

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The Boris route

November 9, 2010

Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, is excited. "Do you know what a Boris bike is?" he asks, pointing at the bicycle in his office. It is a sample for the city-wide bicycle hire programme, like the one introduced by his counterpart in London Boris Johnson, which he will launch at Passover.

This is just the latest new programme by a mayor who loves to innovate, and as a result enjoys widespread popularity.

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Shore winner

November 9, 2010

Despite the cool cultural scene inland, Tel Aviv's 14km Mediterranean coastline and its golden beaches are still the city's most attractive scenic asset. For tourists, the focus is on the 7km central section of seafront from Jaffa Port in the south to Tel Aviv Port in the north.

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Show business

November 9, 2010

Tel Aviv is indisputably Israel's economic capital, but it is also at the heart of the country's cultural life. The city that never stops is home to most of Israel's leading theatre, music and dance companies and the coming months offer a richly varied range of performances, festivals, museum exhibitions and other events that overseas visitors can enjoy.

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All change here for key destinations

November 9, 2010

To preserve in its original state or to renovate, revamp and use today - that is the enduring question for Tel Aviv planners, faced with historic sites.

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Tables turning kosher

November 9, 2010

Contrary to its reputation as the country's secular capital, Tel Aviv now boasts some 200 restaurants offering a wide range of kosher cuisine, all fully certified by Israel's rabbinate.

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So, you're in the army now

November 9, 2010

Refugees from Nazi Germany, after their frightening sea trip on un-seaworthy, over-packed boats, arrive at the shores of Israel. Before they have a chance to mourn their massacred family, they are enlisted into the Palmach, the fighting force of the Hagganah underground army and start training to defend their new homeland.

This is the background to the Palmach experience designed by Orit Shacham Gover who, in her inimitable way, has created yet another powerful experiential museum which makes you, the visitor, part of the events you are watching.

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People power

November 9, 2010

There is a new English name for Beit Hatfutsot. It is no longer translated as the Diaspora Museum, but as the Museum of the Jewish People.

This subtle change is indicative of the much larger changes happening at the museum, which was waning in its popularity, despite being one of the most important museums for the Jewish nation.

The core exhibition is undergoing a massive overhaul, which will bring it into the 21st century of museum technology, as well as a change in concept, reflecting the Jewish world both in the Diaspora and in Israel.

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Prime time

November 9, 2010

As you enter the recently-opened museum dedicated to Yitzchak Rabin and his legacy of peace and democracy, you are transported back to Kikar Malchei Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square, later renamed Yitzchak Rabin Square) on the night of November 4 1995. You hear the Prime Minister sing the "shir leShalom" at the Peace Rally, the pistol crack, and a few second later, the announcement of his assassination.

Once a Jewish assailant has killed an Israeli Prime Minister, can the society ever truly recover?

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Heaven and earth

November 9, 2010

Two things make the Eretz Israel Museum stand out from all the other museums.

The first is that it is built around an archaeological dig, Tel Qasile, an ancient port from the 12th century BCE. This dig, which is considered one of the most important in the entire Tel Aviv area, was ongoing for almost 50 years and large sections of the Philistine port were unearthed, including sections of their four-room homes and layers of their temples. It was razed to the ground at one point, but rebuilt and was obviously a religious centre for the area.

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