Travelogue – Shabbat in Tel Aviv – Aug 6, 2011

On Friday, we trekked to Jaffo/Yafo/Jappo on foot (spellings in English are phonetic).  We trekked down the Rothschild Blvd, temporary home of thousands of youths living in tents (an estimated 200,000 turned out on Saturday night).  We walked down the broad avenue and then turned into a set of narrow streets filled with boutiques and art galleries.  Our destination … Jaffa, the ancient port from which Jonah sailed on his mission to avoid the mission G-d set out for him.  It did not turn out well for Jonah.  He got swallowed by a whale.  Jaffa dates back to ancient Palestine, whereas the rest of Tel Aviv dates back to 1910 (or more recent).

The concrete and macadam of Tel Aviv is replaced by stones in Jaffa — stone walls, stone curbs, stone streets.  It is a “mountain … or rather a hilltop town rising several hundred feet above the level of the sea, and jutting out from the coast thereby giving expansive views of the shoreline and city of Tel Aviv.  Jaffa is topped with a large lush garden.  Apparently Jaffa has been destroyed countless times, including the 20th century.  Since the last destruction, the highest points of Jaffa, the city were cleared to create a large open stone-paved plaza and grassy gardens. In the hot mid-afternoon sun, you can appreciate the shade trees in the park.

As we wandered around Jaffa, up and down stairs, around the port, through the plaza, in the hot sun, I noticed the strange lack of people.  This was August in Israel.  I expected massive bus tours and piles of people.  As we wandered into the market, we began to see people.  The congregated in shady areas, under canopies, and in shaded alleyways.  Someone was telling us something.  Tel Avivians avoid the heat; even tourists soon learn the lesson.  As we emerged from the market and proceeded down the hill, we discovered where Tel Avivians go on a Friday afternoon to avoid the heat.  They go to the beach.  It appears the best time to visit Jaffa is at night when the temperatures drop and the cooling breeze comes off the sea.