By: Hana LaRock
If you’re traveling or thinking of traveling to Tel Aviv, chances are you’re already really excited to go. You’ve probably seen some cool stuff about the White City whether it be on the Internet, TV, or by word of mouth. You’ve most likely imagined yourself on the beaches, eating a falafel at a local restaurant, or partying the night away at one of the many clubs.
However, if hearing other people’s accounts of Tel Aviv is just not doing justice for you, then consider checking out some of these movies, shows, songs, and books to join you in your Tel Aviv departure countdown.
Many Israeli movies take place in Jerusalem, but there are a few gems that were filmed in Tel Aviv. It’s important to keep in mind that Israeli movies generally reflect the conflict going on there as well as complicated social issues. These films shouldn’t deter you from visiting, but rather allow you to see the beauty and diversity a city like Tel Aviv has to offer.
This movie is about a young Jewish girl who falls in love with a young Arab boy that works at her father’s mechanic shop. However, the couple needs to keep their love a secret, especially when she gets pregnant and he gets involved in an unlikely murder.
A similar plot to Jaffa but more lighthearted, The Bubble is about an Israeli man and a Palestinian man who fall in love at a checkpoint. Soon, the Palestinian moves in with the Israeli and his roommates. Their secret apartment becomes known as “the bubble,” which is located in a hip Tel Aviv neighborhood.
Life According to Afga
While this film is most certainly not recent, it isn’t really considered “old” either since it’s relevant today, more than 20 years later. The entire film takes place at a pub in Tel Aviv, where frequent bar-goers represent the unique diversity of the people in Tel Aviv. As the plot starts to unfold, it displays the true culture of Israel; that brotherly love is often stronger than what tears them apart. It is considered one of the most important films in Israeli cinema.
Yes, it’s cheesy and cliche, but the Tel Aviv spin on Pharrell’s hit song “Happ” is just perfect. From the shopkeepers dancing on the sidewalks, kids playing on the beaches, and hot singles having fun on famous streets in the city, the video demonstrates the unique spirit of Tel Aviv.
This short expose by Israel21C covers a lot of the bases on how you can understand the concept — or lack thereof — and prepare to either play “Matkot” (beach paddle ball) or take precautions as an innocent bystander.
Your Hebrew will need to be pretty good to follow along with all the jokes on this show, the Israeli equivalent of SNL. Just like the American version, the comedians take slights about often serious issues that are discussed in Israeli media, giving viewers a taste of the humor and personality.
Whether you prefer an old hit or a song that’s popular in Israel right now, these jams will be sure get you pumped for your trip!
Hine Ani Ba
Surely any song by the famous Israeli band, Hadag Nachash, including “Shirat Hasticker” and “Lazuz,” will get you excited to come to Israel, but ‘Hine Ani Ba’ literally means “here I come,” and it’s a groovy dedication to visitors who will soon land in Tel Aviv.
She Only Wants to Dance/היא רק רוצה לרקוד
Whether you think this song’s lyrics embodies the dating culture of the younger generation is Israel or that it’s just something fun to dance to, you can start by learning the words before your arrival. This song is by two popular Mizrahi artists in Israel, Omer Adam, who also has a song called “Bucharest“ and Moshe Peretz, who has the song “Ain Kamoch.” Let these guys get you familiar with nightlife in Tel Aviv.
This song by Dudu Aharon talks about something Israelis and travelers to Israel have in common-leaving their country. Somewhat of a joke, Israelis always like to go to America, and Americans always like to go to Israel. Sometimes they wish they could trade places. Terminal 3 is the terminal at Ben Gurion that leaves for South America, where many Israelis tend to travel to after their army service is completed. Dudu Aharon, also a Mizrahi singer, has another song called ‘Tagidu La’, which is worth checking out.
A few more for the road
Sweet as Marley (מתוק כשמרלי) by Eliad, The Dream of Every Man (חלום של כל גבר) by Subliminal (who is actually a rap singer), and “Come to Dance” by DJ Gal Malka, are more alternative songs with a mix of rock, hip-hop, and even reggaeton, respectively.
A few other artists to check out are Hatikvah 6, Eyal Golan, and Idan Raichel. There’s also a ridiculous song in Israel that has grown very popular despite it’s silliness, called Denis, Denis.
While there are not many English books out there with specifically Tel Aviv as the basis, there are a few that you should check out. Like most things in Israel, the theme of stories is typically the conflict and daily struggle of its people. Although some of these stories feature some frightening aspects, they also touch on the beautiful, delicate parts of Tel Aviv that shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you have ever been to Tel Aviv before, then you’ve definitely heard of Mike’s Place, an American bar and restaurant right on the beach. When filmmakers Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem came to this very bar to make a documentary about the lifestyle within it, they never thought they’d be in the midst of one of the worst suicide bombings in Israel. This true story covers the events in excruciating detail, but also the exciting scene of a bar you should make visit at least once during your trip.
Tel Aviv Stories
Written by Ashley Rindsberg, Tel Aviv Stories is a collection of short stories about the humans of Tel Aviv, living their ‘mysterious’ lives behind the scenes of everyday life.
Some more light reading
Other books take place in Jerusalem with some parts in Tel Aviv, like the Omar Yussef series by Matt Beynon Reyes, The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan (also a movie), Miral by Rula Jebreal, and The Israelis by Donna Rosenthal.
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.