I am extremely outgoing but even the most outspoken people face the daunting task of meeting the locals when they travel.
This summer I came to Tel Aviv for the first time as an American and a native English speaker. And I managed to take my interpersonal skills to the next level.
The food, the art, the incessant use of electric skateboards… Life is different in Israel.
However, from each new experience I take the best, which until now has been meeting different people and sharing stories with them.
In this note I highlight seven people I met by chance who can give a little insight into the incredible social life of Tel Aviv.
On a personal adventure through Tel Aviv I stumbled upon the beautiful and luxurious gallery Miss D.. While he was admiring the incredible variety of pop art on display, the artist Mush Lazar He entered the venue with his most recent piece.
It was “Ziggy Stardust,” a colorful tribute to David Bowie that now hangs behind the gallery’s reception.
The mixed-media piece was born as a sketch on Lazar’s iPad. The artist posted the drawing process on his Instagram account where his followers can see it.
After the initial stage, Lazar cut out the 3D parts of the drawing, using oil paints and pencil to make the colorful doodles and smiley faces.
He also added some of his favorite Bowie quotes and lyrics.
Lazar told me that he wanted to incorporate elements into “Ziggy Stardust” that “would go out of the frame.” There are bright lightning bolts surrounding Bowie and extending beyond the physical boundary of the work.
Lazar shares his Bowie adoration with his father, who owns a hardware store in northern Israel.
This artist did not participate in the family business because he suffers from Crohn’s disease and the doctors recommended a less stressful environment. That led him to art.
Olga (last name unknown)
I met Olga in her communal garden, where my summer program helped with cleaning and maintenance.
Together with her husband Yehoshua, they dedicate their time and energy to organizing a beautiful garden for their community.
During the pandemic many young families especially appreciated that site.
With my friends Jordyn, Julia and I decided to work in the garden together with Olga, who exudes a natural and immediate kindness.
Although she had no gardening experience, Olga was willing to show us what to do there.
Olga took us for a walk in her garden, showing us the growing of fruits and vegetables, we tasted bright red tomatoes, brought cucumbers to our house, and learned about grapes, lemon trees, and even passion fruit.
He always listened to our concerns and gave us meaningful lessons about food. One is that some green beans are naturally purple but turn green when cooked.
On the hour-long bus ride home, each of us carried different herbs that Olga had collected and given to us.
Although we were conspicuous by our exhaustion, muddy bodies, and large bouquets of fresh herbs we carried, the three of us traveled with smiles on our faces after meeting a wonderful new friend.
Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market -Shuk HaCarmel- has a lively atmosphere but professional bartender Sagiv Lugasy and his juice stall may take the prize as the most colorful and fun place.
The building where Lugasy works today houses not only his juice stand but also his home. There you can find Lugasy sunbathing with his eyes closed and a soft smile on his face.
I couldn’t help but chat with him as I danced around the flowery cocktail stand called Fruits & Co..
His playful energy reflects the upbeat vibe of his drinks stand.
Lugasy told me that his favorite drink is his “Thailand”, a tart and spicy mix of gin, fresh ginger, lemongrass and elderflower.
Check it out to see if you’d drink it too!
“The world is my canvas” is the mantra of Shira Barzilay (39), also known as Koketit.
Based in Tel Aviv, this artist has almost half a million followers on Instagram and a Web page where he sells his work to everyone.
Barzilay has already collaborated with publications and brands such as Vogue Portugal, Harper’s Bazaar, Cartier, Zara and Elle Norway.
Expressionist, minimalist and non-conformist, Barzilay also uses technology and virtual reality in many of his mixed media creations.
“Koketit” comes from the French word coquette, which in Spanish means flirtatious. As a fashion illustrator and blogger with more than ten years of experience, Barzilay used Koketit as an avatar that represented a feminine and, of course, flirtatious character.
She also continued to use Koketit to represent her and her art.
He will soon launch Koketit’s NFT collection called “Elements”. Most of the pieces feature a female figure interacting with the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air) to illustrate how the emotional state of the figure could reflect nature, and vice versa.
Barzilay’s house is a work of art in itself: from flower pots to framed drawings to sandals, almost everything is stamped with Koketit’s iconic drawings of faces.
I watched as Barzilay put on his VR headset, turned on his TV, and drew a two-dimensional piece, then brought it into the three-dimensional world.
With headphones on, Barzilay can virtually walk through his art or draw around it.
In no time, the woman created 3D structures with multiple faces and colorful doodles just as impressive as the ones she sells for thousands of dollars.
Barzilay edits the creations in an app called Sketch Fab and then sells them as 3D models or prints them as sculptures.
The artist allowed me to experience drawing with virtual reality and her openness gave me an incomparable life experience: existing in a 3D art world.
“Reading the Torah will expand your mind more than any drug trip you might have.” This line came to my attention during my first conversation with Elana Langer, who approached me near Gordon Beach.
Outgoing and outspoken, Langer introduced herself and filled me in on the nights of Meditation on Torah Beach that she organizes herself. A week later, we met for coffee.
Langer’s deep connection to energy, spirituality, and Torah amazed me. To start the conversation, the facilitator asked me about my personal life, and her candor established a reality that assured her role as her confidant.
Langer noted that my summer in Israel continues with my Israeli grandmother’s departure from Tel Aviv at a similar age. In a matter of minutes, it connected my summer in the country with a recycling of family history.
While the Torah is often associated with Orthodox Jews, for Langer it is an energy that all Jews can access. She views Shabbat (Saturday) as an escape from reality rather than just a Jewish holiday in traditional terms.
“If you work with the Torah in its structure and follow it, Shabbat can open up new dimensions like any substance. Shabbat shows you how people relate to each other through a structure. It is a trip in time. We leave the modern world and disconnect from everything and when you light your candles you connect to an ancient way,” Langer told me.
With these explanations, Langer altered my perspective on Shabbat, and I not only learned more about spirituality and time, but also gained a mentor and a friend.
Jessy Cohen is pure spark: she works as a media director for ITravelJerusalem and as the boss of one of my friends.
We met at Design Week in Jerusalem but clicked real hard on the 40 minute train ride back to Tel Aviv.
It was night and around 10pm I wasn’t sure if I would have time to change out of my work clothes and leave the Design Week flyer at home before meeting up with friends.
Jessy looked at me like there was a simple solution to this even simpler problem. Then, she began tearing out the Hebrew and Arabic pages of the booklet.
“You can’t read this anyway, so trust me!” he told me.
After reducing the size of the brochure, he folded it tightly and stuffed it inside my bag. Then she moved on to my clothes.
Jessy noticed the most elegant blouse I was wearing and transformed my outfit. She tied the ends of my shirt into a knot and leaned back in her seat.
“I do this all the time. You have to keep moving and be ready for anything,” she told me with a nonchalant smile.
She inspired what my friends and I call the “Jessy says yes to everything” attitude. Her openness and willingness to invite us to events continues to inspire me in the way I embrace the adventure and spontaneous experiences of this summer in Israel.
Natalie Feldesman and Itzik More
the videographer natalie feldesman and the photographer Itzik Mor they saw its amazing projection on a hill outside the Eretz Israel Museum together with hundreds of spectators who came to see the work made for the recent Tel Aviv White Night.
“We wanted to create a hallucination of different caves and moons, and add a performance. The work tells a story but it is also always liquefying and being reborn”, they explained.
When I asked them for the title of the mass, they laughed. “Wow, we don’t have a title. We were so busy thinking about the screening itself… This is not something we will show over and over again, it was created for this amphitheatre,” they said almost in unison.
Using Mor’s background in archaeology, the artists looked to the museum’s history for inspiration. “The first excavation there found an altar to the sea god of the ancient cultures that lived in these lands. We take it as a reference. I deal a lot with archaeological finds, so the general idea was to create an alternative space for people to lie down and relax,” Mor explained.
In turn, Feldesman added that they are a couple in real life and that the screening was their first collaborative piece.
The seven people I just wrote about represent just a microcosm of the sea of unique and diverse individuals I have met and will continue to meet.
I hope they will also inspire everyone who reads this article. Yes, to venture out and meet new people.
From what I learned, the worst that can happen is that someone is not interested in interacting with others, but most of the time it is possible to learn something new about yourself, a plant, a work of art, a projection in a museum or wherever. may the world and its inhabitants take us.