Welcome to Tel Aviv

Good Letters | 7/23/2018 | Staff
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Early on Friday morning, the first full day of my recent trip to Israel with Congregation Beth Ha Tephila, Asheville, NC, six of the forty-three participants gathered on a momentarily quiet Metzitzim Beach near the Tel Aviv port for twenty minutes of mindfulness practice.

When we finished, we noted, just to the south of us, what seemed to be a privacy fence. What for? My guess: it was for ultra-Orthodox Jews to create a space where men or women could visit separately.

Women - Nordau - Separate - Beach - Sunday

Turns out, I was right. Women use Nordau Separate Beach on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday; men on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That explained the dozens of men and boys in black slacks, white shirts, tzittzis (stringed fringes) swinging from their waists, tallis (prayer shawl) bags tucked under their arms, streaming toward the beach beside us.

On Shabbat (Saturday) afternoon, our dear friend and trip leader Rabbi Batsheva Meiri joined my wife and me for a stroll down Lahat Promenade. First we passed Nordau Separate Beach, which, on Shabbat, is open to all. Next, another designated beach, the Hilton Dog Beach where dogs run free.

Dogs - Game - Kadima - Ball - Time

I was delighted to watch four or five dogs engrossed in a game of kadima, paddle ball. Each time the kadima ball tocked off the paddle of the man on which their attention was trained, the dogs leapt into the air, hoping to snag the ball. That they missed every time didn’t seem to discourage them. They remained alert with hope that the next time they’d succeed. Israel is a country of hope.

Just beyond the dog beach, a third designated beach: the Hilton Gay Beach, pride flags and banners colorfully flying in the breeze.

Stroll - Juxtaposition - Contiguity - Jews - Roots

During that short, half-mile stroll, we experienced juxtaposition and contiguity. We saw and walked among Jews whose recent-ish roots (from about 150 to sixty to...
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