Tel Aviv Stories...
Interesting Tales, Facts and Tidbits

This page is for you if you'd like to  read interesting Tel Aviv stories and discover less-known aspects about this city. 

Living here, I’ve learned that there is much more to this city than the Mediterranean sun and fun, and the relaxed atmosphere that we all love.

Here are some fun and fascinating stories about Tel Aviv, in no particular order.

Tel Aviv Stories - What’s in a Name?

city of tel aviv logo

Even the name of the city - Tel Aviv - reflects the contrasts and history that this city hides under its sunny exterior.

Tel’ means an ancient mound, where archaeological ruins have piled up over the centuries.

Aviv’ means spring.

Spring-Mound” - Tel-Aviv - this young, spring-like city, was built about 1910, on bare sand dunes adjacent to the ancient port city of Jaffa with ruins dating back over 4,000 years.

Tel Aviv’s very name was chosen to convey rebirth of the modern country of Israel, once the ancient Jewish homeland.  The full name of the city today is Tel Aviv-Yafo (Yafo is Jaffa in Hebrew).

4,000 Years of History here in Tel Aviv

This area  has been conquered and reconquered countless times over the years - Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, King David and King Solommon, Greeks, Ottomans, Crusaders and more.

- Can you guess which famous Greek legend took place in Jaffa?

- Which famous Biblical prophet sailed away from the Jaffa port?

- Any idea which European king conquered the area and left his cannon here?

-  How long did the first train ride ever from Jaffa to Tel Aviv, a 35 mile ride: 1 hour; 2 hours, 3 hours or 6 hours?

You can find answers to these questions and much more in our two pages on:

History of Tel Aviv, Part I - Legends and Ancient Period


Tel Aviv History, Part II - Medieval to the Modern Era.

Tel Aviv Stories - Living in a Bubble

classic tel aviv stories living in a bubble

photo courtesy of Bagsgroove of British Columbia

You probably didn't know that here in Israel, people commonly refer to those of us living in the Tel Aviv  as 'living in a bubble,’ - meaning that we live separately and differently from the rest of the country.

There is a definitely a different atmosphere in Tel Aviv than in the rest of Israel.

Israelis throughout the country are mainly warm, friendly and speak English, but in this city, people are generally less religious and more hedonistic; and more open, tolerant and cosmopolitan  than the rest of the country.

As Telavivians, our English is usually more fluent.

We go out a lot and often have family meals at the amazing selection of Tel Aviv restaurants.  We regularly go for drinks with friends at the beachside promenade or the buzzing Tel Aviv port and meet for walks at one of the fun Tel Aviv-Yafo streets and neighborhoods.

We never pass an opportunity to see a good film or catch the latest stage production at one of the many theaters located around the city.

We love and embrace life!

Tel Aviv Stories -
One of the World's Best Gay Cities

tel aviv stories gay friendly after party on rothschild boulevard

Here’s a picture from a recent gay friendly street after-party in Tel Aviv, Israel.

You may not be aware that Tel Aviv is not only the gay capital of Israel but of the entire Middle East. Whether you’re straight, gay or ‘gay friendly’, there is a vibrant gay subculture that is impossible to miss if you’re open enough to see it.

In most areas of the city , gay people can embrace and express themselves freely in Tel Aviv.

Gili Shem Tov is an openly-gay woman sports anchor on one of Israel's main TV channels who made television history worldwide in 2011 as the first same-sex couple on the well known reality show ‘Dancing with the Stars.’

This comes as no surprise to us Telavivians.

Surf to our Gay Israel page for more information on the best gay clubs and parties, and for fun pictures of gay life and the annual Love Week and Parade which takes place every June. It's a spectacle not to missed.

Tel Aviv Stories -
It All Began with a Seashell Lottery

the seashell lottery when tel aviv was founded in 1909

Modern day Tel Aviv was born in 1909 when 60 families met on the sand dunes north of Jaffa for a lottery. 

They gathered in a plot of land called Kerem Gibail which had been bought from local Arabs three years earlier.  They wanted to move out of overcrowded Jaffa.  Jews had already built new neighborhoods outside of Jaffa like Neve Tzedek and Kerem HaTeimanim, but they had been built in the traditional, Oriental crampled style with narrow, winding streets.

Their dream was to build a modern city and they called their dream plot Ahuzat HaBayit - Mansion Manor.

It was designed with parks, playgrounds and 4 wide, parallel streets in which carriages and people could pass comfortably.  One central street, Herzl Street, would cross them all.  There would be modern plumbing in all the homes and the streets would be lit at night with lamp posts.

One hundred and twenty seashells were gathered into two piles, sixty gray and sixty white sea shells. The names of each the 60 families were written on the gray shells and the numbers of each of the 60 plots were written on  the white shells.  And then a boy and a girl randomly chose one gray and one white shell which is how each family was allocated one of the plots.

That's how modern Tel Aviv was built and born.

Tel Aviv Stories - The White City
Did you know Tel Aviv is a World Heritage Site?

tel aviv architecture white city and palm trees

It’s not commonly known that Tel Aviv's 'White City' was  designated it as a World Heritage Site in 2003 by the United Nations.

From the 1930’s to the 1950’s, European architects built 4,000 buildings in Tel Aviv in the Bauhaus Architecture or International Style.

The effect of nearly 1,000 of these intact or renovated buildings in Tel Aviv is beautifully striking.

You can read and see more pictures on our page on Bauhaus architecture in the White City.

As an aside, the city’s skyline is changing with taller and taller buildings mushrooming all over the city. I love it and think these soaring structures exist in beautiful harmony with the older buildings.

To dispel all your preconceptions of Tel Aviv, we’ve created a page of this town’s best Skyscraper Photos in Tel Aviv.

President Barack Obama Wish on Tel Aviv

You'll love this video by President Barack Obama on Tel Aviv!

The video is from an interview by Israel news anchor Yonit Levi taken just  before his last visit to Israel in March 2013.

Forget about politics, Iran, Syria and the Palestinians.  President Obama wishes he could wander incognito in Tel Aviv with a fake moustache, and hang out at one of the city's bars and talk to the natives.

A Different Tel Aviv Story -
The Kabbalah Center for Jewish Mysticism

the kabbalah center of tel aviv - in a bauhaus building

The Kabbalah is the study of Jewish mysticism and is considered the ‘secret’ or hidden interpretation of the Torah, the Jewish Bible.

People usually think of the Israeli cities Safed (Tzfat) in the Galilee or Jerusalem as centers for Jewish mysticism.But Tel Aviv attracts a great number of tourists as the host of the world-renown Kabbalah Center.

Kabbalah studies have become trendy in the past decade. You may have read about stars like Madonna and Britney Spears donning a red string, a kabalistic protective talisman. Well known celebrities such as Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and James van der Breek have visited Tel Aviv’s Kabbalah Center .

The Kabbalah Center of Tel Aviv is physically located in one of Tel Aviv’s original Bauhaus buildings near Dizengoff Square.

Tel Aviv Stories - An Avid Surfing Culture

You may not know that Tel Aviv has an avid surfing subculture.

Want a great Tel Aviv story? Here's a shot of my good friend Nir, a high-tech sales manager, always checking the wind and wave conditions on the net.

Nir is also one of Israel's best paddle surfers at Surfers TopSea Beach in Tel Aviv -

tel aviv stories - surfing the waves in tel aviv

Sure, Tel Aviv is a far cry from Hawaii, Costa Rica or even Santa Monica, but Israelis love to surf.

People of all ages enjoy wave surfing, wind surfing, kite surfing and paddle surfing. My teenage daughter Eden recently learned surfing and tries to go out often.

Interesting Tel Aviv Stories

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