Today we drove one-hour to Tel Aviv for a relaxing day at the beach. We liked this beach much more than the Dead Sea. It was SO much cleaner and the water felt nice and warm with a rumbling tide. There were also little black fish to keep us company in the shallow end and a great shallow coast for wading. Actually, if I could compare the beach we were on to anything, it would be a nice wave pool with fish and enough personal space to enjoy the waves. The sand was soft and not too hot…everything seemed…perfect. We didn’t want to leave…we even prayed on the beach. The Dead Sea was translucent and this water was more transparent. The Mediterranean Sea is definitely our favorite beach spot so far, and we hear the Red Sea, which we should be visiting next week in Eilat inshAllah, is even better!
While at the beach, we also met up with my friend Irit, who is helping me decipher similarities (and differences) between Muslims and Jews. She is also the one who helped us with the questioning at the airport just in her name and citizenship status. Sighs. Of all the Israelis we’ve met, Irit is a breath of fresh air. And it was great to sip tea and coffee by teh sea with her while watching the sunset, catching that fresh air.
Tel Aviv is a secular city to say the least. I saw only one man with a kippah on his head and a beard. I saw one woman with a headcovering. Actually, while waiting for a traffic light, an Israeli man pointed to my husband’s beard and commented on how nice he thought it was. He asked if we were Jewish, and when my husband said that we were Muslim, he still liked the beard. I guess a nice beard is a nice beard.
While making our way back to Jerusalem, we also stumbled upon La Guardia Street in Tel Aviv. It’s a little Chinatown-Ethiopiatown-Indiatown. Seems like this is where all the “minorities” stay. It truly reminded me of the barrios back home and actually, Tel Aviv looks a lot like Miami. Everything is mostly written in Hebrew though and we felt illiterate with mostly everything, having to look for picture signs. We only met 2 Palestinians while here, both male and both the help on the beach.
I wonder if La Guardia was named after New York? If Jerusalem is the spiritual capital, then Tel Aviv is the secular one. Giant billboards cover buildings and we couldn’t even find kosher Chinese food in little China. But we did find a kosher McDonald’s!!!
By the way, remember yesterday when we got corn-topped pizza for dinner? Well, we actually asked the owners 1)if the place was kosher and 2) if we could have pepperoni pizza. They looked at us as if we were crazy. I asked my friend Irit why and here’s something for us all to know: kosher does not actually refer to just meat, and a place can’t get a kosher certificate unless they follow all the dietary rules. For instance, Jews are not supposed to eat dairy and meat products together, i.e. pepperoni pizza. One is supposed to wait 6 hours before eating the other…don’t really know the reason why, but it suffices to say, don’t order pepperoni pizza and ask if it’s kosher in the same breath! Instead, ask if the meat is kosher.