By: Hana LaRock and Spencer Ho
Tel Aviv is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Each person who you’ll see out on the streets of Tel Aviv gives the city a unique flavor that when mixed with others, makes the perfect melting pot. Without them, Tel Aviv wouldn’t be what it is today.
The People of Tel Aviv
The Young-at-Heart, Old Israeli
These people are the Chalutzim, the pioneers who built this country. Whether they were born here or they came over as immigrants, they are inside every Israeli you see. They are the cute couple on the bus speaking English to each other but Hebrew on the streets, the old woman buying her groceries from the Shuk, and they are in the heart and soul of the young Israelis who wouldn’t be who they are without these people as their grandparents. Sure, they might be ‘cute’, but don’t underestimate them. They’ve been in Israel through all the hard times times, and they’re not going anywhere.
Openly Gay… Doesn’t Care What People Think
Tel Aviv is one of the best places to be open about your sexual orientation. People who identify as gay or lesbian living in Tel Aviv are welcomed by gay clubs, gay festivals, and tons of other LGBTQ people. They’re happy to be out and don’t care who knows it. These people bring the life into Tel Aviv, and you can guarantee that they’ll always be where the party is.
From the streets to the studio to the runway, the fashion scene is one of the most respected and forward-thinking in the world. Israeli designers are no strangers to dressing the rich and famous, including big names like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell and Nikki Minaj, to name a few.
However, the scene is hardly limited to the big firms. Walk up and down Dizengoff Street, check out the fashion fair at Dizengoff Center every Friday or peruse the fabric shops on Nahalat Binyamin, and it will start to seem like every Tel Avivian is a fashion designer.
That wouldn’t be true, though, because some people are just fashion experts, not designers (yet).
The flirt is every stereotypical Israeli man who will make you fall in love, and ask you to marry him and move to Israel permanently in less than a week. He could be that cute soldier or the guy you met at a club. He’s the one that will try to kiss you when you’ve only told him where you’re from, and the one that won’t stop trying to ask you out even if your flight is leaving in a few hours. If an Israeli guy likes you, there’s no escaping it, so just delve in their charm for a while and you’ll be sure to have a great time. Just study up before you start dating….
With more startups per capita than any other country in the world, Israel is the Startup Nation and Tel Aviv is its capital. Sometimes it seems like everybody in Tel Aviv has plans to develop an app, start their own website or open their own design house, marketing firm, restaurant, bed and breakfast, farm or whatever, and they are more than happy to tell you all about it.
While all the business talk can be overwhelming at times, it does Tel Aviv the perfect place to network and make contacts for life.
The Shopkeeper is the epitome of Tel Aviv. Whether he works at the pizza place near Dizengoff Square, the juice stand on Rothschild, or the shawarma restaurant in Rabin Square, this guy will make you his best friend in a matter of minutes. He will ask you overly-personal questions and trick you into giving him all the answers. When he tells you to come back again, he isn’t kidding. You better come back again. He is both extremely overbearing and obnoxious, but just as loving and caring as one of your uncles.
The Birth-righter, Who Wants to Move to Israel
After just a few days in Israel, this person who’s on a free trip to Israel has absolutely fallen in love with every piece of the country. They can’t stop talking about how when they finish college, they’re going to move to Israel the first chance they get. They are also recent experts on the Arab-Israeli conflict, so don’t dare say anything remotely controversial about Israel when they’re around.
The Foreign Student
Make no mistake, that glowing kid over there who’s partying at the club, shopping at the Shuk and practicing their Hebrew even though all their company speaks English, is definitely not here are Birthright. Be careful not to even ask this question, because they will most likely be offended and respond with something along the lines of “No, I’m actually a student at TAU. I live here.”
While Israel is the Jewish State, you won’t have a hard time finding people of other faiths or ethnicity while you’re here. In Tel Aviv, you can find Ethiopians, Arab Druze, Russians who came here after leaving the former Soviet Union, foreign tourists who have come to see the Holy Land, and Arab Israelis, who are too often misunderstood. All of these individuals help make Tel Aviv the diverse place it is.
While Israel has morphed into a modern tech giant, many of its residents still hold tight to their hippie past of nature parties, kibbutzim and communes. Recognizable by dreadlocks or some hairstyle you thought went out of date 20 years ago (looking at you, rat-tail), Tel Aviv hippies can be found at the beach, vegan restaurants, cafes and psytrance parties. While they probably have a job in the tech sector, they will also no doubt regale you with tales of their travels to India, Thailand, South America and Rainbow gatherings.
What would Tel Aviv be without its artists — the musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors? Thankfully, we don’t have to find out because the city is chalk-full of enough established and up-and-coming artists for the foreseeable future, many of whom are responsible for resurrecting some of South Tel Aviv’s once derelict neighborhoods. You don’t have to look far to find them. Florentin is overrun with artists (and street art), while Neve Tzedek and Jaffa are littered with art galleries.
If you want to get up close and personal in a more social setting, however, check out the Yafo Creative guest house and artist collective or the combination club-art gallery Kuli Alma. Don’t worry. They may be pretentious, but less so than in other art capitals — plus, they know how to have fun.
Certainly not unique to Tel Aviv, but prevalent nonetheless, Tel Aviv is rife with hipsters. And why not? Tel Aviv has everything a hipster could want — it’s a little rundown, artsy, has lots of immigrants, over-priced drinks, gentrification (caused by hipsters), bicycles and, vegan restaurants, underground nightlife and so on.
The attraction of Tel Aviv to hipsters is such that you’re just as likely to run into hipsters from Berlin as you are Tel Aviv hipsters. You’ll find them hanging out in neighborhoods like the Florentin, Hatikvah, the Yemenite Quarter, Levinsky and Carmel Market.
The Immigrant (Oleh)
This is the person who has just moved to Israel, making what is called ‘aliyah’. They might be the young person who has just turned 18 and have been passionate about joining the IDF since they were a child, or it might be a person in his or her like 20’s from Latin America, who has left their chaotic homeland in search of a better life. It could be someone who fell in love with an Israeli and has moved here to start off new, or it could be someone who has escaped discrimination for being a Jew in their home. Whatever the reason is, this person has come to Israel for a new beginning, and it’s guaranteed that they have an interesting story to tell.
No matter who it is, all of these people have something in common; they love Tel Aviv!
About the author
Hey all! My name is Hana LaRock and I’m originally from Stony Brook, New York. I’ve lived abroad for the last two years and I like to travel to other countries whenever I get the chance. I graduated the University of Hartford in 2013, and during my time there I spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University. I currently live in South Korea where I work as an ESL teacher for young children. When I’m not teaching, I work as a freelance travel writer. Find me at www.hanalarockwriting.com.