Tel Aviv Looks Pretty in White

Oh, how we needed this moment. Strolling down Rothschild Boulevard, adorned in beauty by our present mayor; seeing serene, relaxed masses of Israelis; seeing free concerts on little stages erected the length of the boulevard, performed by minor artists from all over the world, without boycotts or ostracism.

A white night in the White City that was once a gray city, whose days are humid and sticky and whose nights are violent. But tonight, there's a celebration in the city once deemed the epitome of ugliness. Tonight, she is beautiful.

Reveler on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, July 1, 2010
Daniel Bar-On

This is a report from the early part of the "White Night," as mandated for those who must file their columns before the later events, before the paper goes to press. Maybe that is why everything was still so relaxed. It's a time for adults, for suburbanites.

"This is Rothschild Boulevard and this is the Moses restaurant. I was here once," a not-so-young suburbanite told her husband.

The masses hit the streets in the early evening. The palace of the former Russian embassy, where I once found a Russian shoemaker's shop in the ruins, was lit up in technicolor glory. At the city's first kiosks - now branches of Japanika and Arcaffe - Brazilian dancers were swinging. There was a briefing for security staff, clowns putting on their make-up, singers warming up. Crowds.

On this night that will not end, there are routes for music lovers, clubbers, food and shopping, a combined route and even an "intellectuals route." One station on it is Dizengoff House, open specially until 11 P.M. On May 15, 1948, the crowds gathered here, but tonight there is silence in the hall. The sound of David Ben-Gurion reading the Declaration of Independence echoes through the maddeningly empty hall.

Instead of the cotton candy of our childhood Independence Days, vendors sell sushi. Progress, you know. In Gan Hahashmal, also amazingly renovated, there is avante-garde theater. There are free museums and partying at the port. Swarms of cars make their way south as I rush north to write these lines.

"Tel Aviv breathes, Tel Aviv doesn't sleep," Danny Robas once wrote. But when this white night ends and the dawn rises, we will again see the city in gray.