Seeing Tel Aviv's Charming Quirks Through the Eyes of Its Anglo Immigrants

A whole host of websites and groups catering to Anglos abroad reveal that they are fascinated by overpriced rental apartments and greengrocers who eat their grapes.

Jonny Silver
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Jonny Silver

Sue wants to know where she can find Jaffa cakes in Israel. Back in her home country of Britain she doesn't have any problem finding these chocolate-coated cakes filled with orange jam – which are named after the famous Jaffa oranges. But it turns out that finding them in Tel Aviv-Jaffa is an entirely different story. She had asked a question in the "Where in TLV" Facebook group, which helps internationals who have moved to Tel Aviv familiarize themselves with the city.

The group members have a whole host of questions, from how to find a dermatologist to where you can buy a floor fan, find organic salmon or eat a proper pizza. And this group is only one of dozens that serve an international community of olim and foreigners living in the city. It's interesting to see the city through their eyes.

TLVist is a user-generated and user-edited page that aims to provide a comprehensive list of information about the city to foreigners. Although a large list of sections – from pharmacies to festivals – has already been created, the information is still at a preliminary stage (readers are welcome to help, of course).

It's interesting to see what sections have already been completed: shopping and gyms are full, though there's already a glaring mistake – the Carmel Market has been described as selling "mostly fruits and vegetables."

Tel Aviv Apartments caters to an area that is also well-established among the locals – apartments for rent and flat-shares.

The properties advertised here may be in the same gray, humid Tel Aviv, but they sound a lot better when they're described as being "stunning" or "duplex" in English. If you had to point out one major difference it would be that this site has a far larger amount of apartments that are leased through agents and cost NIS 9,400 a month.

Over at Jobs Tel Aviv International, they're looking for office managers with a good command of English, volunteers to help manage the Maccabiah Games, English-speaking actors and extras for TV shows and English-speaking sales representatives.

Only In Tel Aviv is a forum for Anglos to have a good-natured kvetch about all the things that shock those who didn’t grow up in the Levant. Each one of these kvetches begins with the phrase "only in Israel," which the group's members shorten to OII.

This week, Ellen discovered that workers at a clothing store turn their counter into an impromptu dining table at lunchtime; Jean found a garbage dump that boasted the sign "no garbage disposal allowed"; and Yael left a bag at the greengrocers only to return to find the greengrocer chomping on her grapes.

Those who grew up in the Levant, like this writer, will encounter culture shock of their own when they check out this page: It seems like no one's really annoyed by all these incidents, and some posts actually focus on how beautiful, pleasant, friendly and lovable Israel is.

Eating with others
EatWith connects local gourmets who want to host luxury meals for foreigners with foreigners who want to eat luxury meals with locals. Clearly targeting tourists, the website is in English and uses dollars despite mainly offering meals in Israel (it's currently expanding to include Spain and New York).

White City Shabbat tries to do something similar, but for a different reason: It connects those who host Shabbat dinners with those who feel lonely without a little Yiddishkeit on Friday nights.

At the time of writing the website didn't feature any upcoming dinners, but it also has an active Facebook group where you can read the weekly Torah portion in English and also find out that next week's event (a Kabbalat Shabbat at the synagogue near Rabin Square for young professionals, at NIS 70 per head) has already closed.

It seems that this page, as well as several others, is run by a group called TLV Internationals, which describes itself as a bunch of immigrants and professionals living in Tel Aviv – and also describes Tel Aviv using the insufferable nickname "the White City."

Their next event is an English lecture on the life of Ze'ev Jabotinsky (July 4, 7 P.M., the Jabotinsky Museum, 38 Hamelekh George St., NIS 20). The lecture is in partnership with Tel Aviv International Salons, which was established to connect between young internationals and locals.

Back to Jaffa
In Where in TLV, Yael updates us with the news that the elusive Jaffa cakes can be found at a supermarket, sold as Pim's under the Belgian brand LU. We'll check it out and get back to you.

An ice cream parlor in Neve Tzedek, Tel AvivCredit: Tal Abir

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