Tel Aviv Widrich
The girl named Tel Aviv from the Municipal Tourist Bureau opens the first season with a story about a fight between the North and the South and some top hidden places to visit in the city
That’s a strange name you have. How did you get it?
— My mother is a Tel Aviv historian so I was named after the city. And thanks to Mom I’ve been to its most famous and most unknown spots. I was born in north Tel Aviv, but I escaped and now luckily I live in Jaffa.
Why, what’s wrong with northern Tel Aviv?
— In the north you see these “bnei tovim”, which means “good boys” or rather “kids of good people”, who actually, usually, turn out to be the worst. You can often read in a newspaper, "Three young men raped a girl… they were such bnei tovim, it’s hard to believe it could ever happen to someone like them!". At this moment I want to scream, "Hey, don’t you see, that happened exactly because they are 'bnei tovim' — all their lives they’ve spent in houses with a pool, they think they can have anything they want — and that’s exactly the reason". So in this context, I prefer to be bad and I want my kids to be “bnei raim”, or kids of a bad person, so that I don’t end up reading things like this about them in a newspaper.
Bnei tovim — “Kids of good people”. They come from upper-class families, spend all their lives in houses with pools in North Tel Aviv, go to privileged schools, privileged army divisions and hopefully become pilots. The word is used with sarcasm and for criticism.
Looks like there is a real fight between the north and the south?
— In southern Tel Aviv, you can see a lot of hate towards those who live in the north. A southerner usually says, "Oh, you’re so nice helping refugees and new immigrants — but you keep the distance and don’t want to live with them". And a northerner would answer, "You yourself call them 'these people', so maybe you’re the racist?" And so on. The government gives the refugees no status, no work permission, so the Tel Aviv city municipality has to deal with the problem by itself. The city opened clinics, schools and volunteer organizations to help the refugees. But it’s obviously not enough.
Israhodim — Indian-Israeli. Almost every Israeli travels to India after the army, and some bring the vibe back here with them. You will find Israhodim on Geula beach smoking weed all day and playing with a hula hoop and other Indian souvenirs.
How do you Get around?
— I brought my bicycle from the Kibbutz. It’s so old that sometimes people offer me money when they see it. But I find it beautiful and I would never get rid of it!
What would you change in the city?
— I think we need more swimming pools in the center. I used to go to hotel pools pretending to be a tourist. Israelis look like trash when they go to the beach or to the pool, but when tourists go swimming, they wear nice hats and leave their jewelry on. So I would just dress up and go to the pool and no one would ask me anything. I preferred Harrods and Renaissance — in the low season I’d be the only person there.
Ars — A rude Israeli. Puts on loud music on the bus and barbecues all over the Kinneret, leaving his trash behind.
What do you like about the city?
— Tel Aviv is still “sahi” — following the rules, but it’s also very alive and artistic. Though most of art stays here and is very much about what’s happening here.
Sahi — A boring person who follows the rules precisely without thinking much and prefers not to stand out.
What do you like doing in the city?
— I like taking people to secret places. When I see a roof that looks inviting I sometimes find a way to get there. And actually that’s not a problem here — there’s free access to many roofs, and in any neighborhood I have my favorite roof or balcony to take my dates to.
Friedman — A privileged white Ashkenazi. Named after the participant of the first season of Big Brother Israel.
What do you hate in Tel Aviv?
— “Hate” is a strong word. I love Tel Aviv and I enjoy living here one hundred percent. When I was a kid I used to think that I would get rid of the big hotel towers on the shore line. It is a pretty dead street — there is a beach, and then there’s a wall of hotels that separates the sea from the city.
Yeldei Dizengoff Center — The Dizengoff Center kids. For decades every Tuesday evening punk teenagers come from all over the country to hang out in Dizengoff Center. Some even spend the whole night there.
What’s your advice to a tourist?
— There are a lot of cool community activities here. For example, Jaffa community is amazing. Every Friday afternoon they organize acroyoga in the HaMidron Garden with live music and picnics. Every second Friday they have Shabbat dinner in someone’s house — if you want to join you just bring some food, a plate and a fork.
• The greenhouse on the roof of Dizengoff Center. You need to head to Lev Cinema, then go outside to the parking, and find your way to the greenhouse. The place is just a roof of a mall, but I find it awesome and I had some romantic moments there. They also usually put their spices and herbs near McDonald’s or near the cinema in the mall; you can take it and leave as much money as you want.
• The American-German Colony and its church with Norwegian stained-glass windows and a huge organ. The place has a very interesting story. It was build by Americans, who brought their wooden houses with them on their ships and assembled them here like Lego. Those who survived left after only one year because of diseases and the leader turned out to be a charlatan. In the end, they sold all the houses to German Templers. In the 1930's the colony was inhabited by Nazis and you would see Nazi flags in the middle of the Jewish city. You should go to Beit Emanuel Hostel and find the gallery with all the pictures and explanations. Ask for Pedro, he’s a very nice missionary who works there and loves to tell the story of the place.
• The same architect who designed Habima square, Dani Karavan, also made the huge White Square sculpture in the Edith Wolfson Park. It’s a really cool place; you should climb it and enjoy the amazing view.
Text Asya Chachko
Photo Masha Kushnir