In true Tel Aviv style, my best friend and I met over brunch on Friday morning at 10 Idelson on Dizengoff to catch up over some iced coffee. Of course, there was a brief wait as with all popular cafés in the heart of the city, but the maître d’ was very attentive, even bringing us some water to ease the wait, a gesture I have learned not to expect.My friend and I sat outside in an intimate but lively space and ordered our coffee while quietly taking in the very hip, very typical Tel Aviv atmosphere. I recall my father telling me that when I move to Tel Aviv, I must not spend all my time sipping coffee in Dizengoff Square. This image is the epitome of Idelson 10.
Ordering on the waiter’s recommendation and his rather acute observation that perhaps two breakfasts (NIS 51) would be too much for us, we took one Provençal breakfast, as well as a spinach and cream brioche with egg yolks (NIS 46). The coffee came as part of the deal.
As we waited for our meal, the waiter proceeded to bring us a basket of delicious fresh bread and croissants.
In the midst of the low buzz of lunching friends and families at the highly polished white tables, our food appeared, adding a burst of color and freshness.
The Provençal breakfast reminded me of a classic tel aviv restaurantt with a decadent twist, and a side of Israeli salad. The sausages and salami were rich and delicious, accompanied by the staple dips of olives, cheeses and tuna. The brioche was tasty, though a little on the heavy side, stuffed with spinach cream and streaming golden egg yolk.
We couldn’t quite finish the breakfast. But even so, the waiter insisted (he didn’t have to try very hard) that we try the specialty baked goods that Idelson is famous for. The sumptuous selection of petit fours did not disappoint.
As regular coffee drinkers and café goers, 10 Idelson fitted the bill perfectly, and its prime location allowed for a leisurely browsing of the local antique market and artists’ stalls on the way home.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.@ New York Jewish Guide
10 Idelson Restaurant
117 Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 529-9295
Sunday to Saturday 7.30 a.m. until midnight
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A new exhibit at Beth Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Jewish People, does the impossible: it makes learning Hebrew fun, and tires out your kids in the process.By Judy Maltz.
At the very least, the exhibit will show kids that expanding their knowledge of Hebrew doesn’t necessarily have to be painful. Photo by Courtesy Beth Hatefutsoth
If you thought learning Hebrew couldn’t possibly be fun, try doing it while running, jumping, climbing and sliding. You’ll be surprised. Better yet, your kids will be, too.
Beth Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Jewish People, is not exactly the sort of place you think of when you’re looking for a good time, or the first choice that pops into your head when you’re planning a day out with the kids. But spend a couple of hours at its new interactive and experiential exhibit on the Hebrew language, and you’re bound to be become a believer.
“A B See Do: Adventures in Hebrewland” or “Abagada,” as it’s known in Hebrew, does indeed target rather small kids – specifically ages 3 through 10 – but is certainly appropriate for older ones as well.
For children who aren’t native Hebrew speakers and whose main association with the language of the Jews is being forced to wake up early Sunday mornings to attend bar or bat mitzvah classes, the exhibit, dare we say it, makes language learning fun. Kids have a chance to reacquaint themselves with the letters and sounds of the ancient tongue in a friendly atmosphere. At the very least, it will show them that expanding their knowledge of Hebrew doesn’t necessarily have to be painful.
“A B See Do,” which opened in July 2011, is one of Beth Hatefutsoth’s temporary exhibits, but considering its popularity, museum staff assured us, it doesn’t look like it’s coming down anytime soon. For the very young, or those with little background in Hebrew, there are lots of fun activities designed to get them better acquainted with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Take, for example, a game called “Catch a Letter” that involves running around a circle projected onto the floor and trying to identify specific Hebrew letters floating around in it. Once the right letter has been caught with the stamp of a foot, an image appears of that particular letter used at the start of a simple Hebrew word. Not only do children begin to recognize some letters, they now will also recognize a few words. In another game, visitors sit in a carousel-like contraption circling a table with a touch screen that allows them to form basic words by mixing around letters.
There’s another cool game that challenges visitors to identify what part of the mouth is responsible for different sounds in Hebrew. Just watching other visitors stand in front of a mirror doing this one (especially trying to figure out where the “zzzzz” in the letter zayin comes from) is also pretty amusing.
One of our favorites was a competitive game that requires participants to race around a conveyor belt searching for moving letters and then fit these letters into their appropriate spots in words that are also flashing by. The first player or group to complete all the words wins, and they’re usually red in the face by the time they do.
Just so you know, there’s little sitting around in this place. Almost all activities require some sort of physical movement. There are quite a few rock-climbing walls, a bunch of slides, swinging chairs and other installations that force kids to burn lots of energy while they simultaneously challenge their minds. The floors in the 570-square-meter space that houses the exhibit are all padded so that even the wildest kids can go crazy without causing much damage. Just as a precaution, though, all visitors entering the space are required to remove their shoes.
For more advanced Hebrew speakers and older kids, there are more challenging mental activities, such as games that require them to figure out the source, the three-letter root or the definition of words in Hebrew. Another game even lets them make up their own words in Hebrew. A special section of the exhibit, also appropriate for relatively older kids, is devoted to communicating through other methods besides speech. In this section, children are taught some of the basics of sign language, as well as reading and writing in Braille. They can also try their hand at pantomiming and experimenting with voice intonation while they’re at it.
At the “Well of Names,” children can plug in their Hebrew names into a computer and learn about their origins. For visitors from abroad who may not use their Hebrew names as much or may not be as familiar with the ancient roots of these names, this could be an especially meaningful activity.
Although children cannot enter the exhibit unaccompanied, parents do not need to be at their sides at all times, and there’s even space designated at the entrance where adults can relax. The exhibit is built in such a way that the kids themselves decide in what order to move around and how much time to spend at each stop. The walls of the exhibit contain lots of fun facts about the Hebrew language and languages in general, so parents not interested in joining their kids for some of the more sweat-producing activities can roam around and expand their knowledge. Did you know, for example, that the number of Hebrew words in use has multiplied six times since the beginning of the 20th century? Or did you know that the first Hebrew word ever to appear in slang form was “l’hit” (an abbreviated form of the word “l’hitraot” that means “see you”)? Well, now you do!
The museum recommends allocating an hour to the exhibit. Suffice it to say that after two hours, we had to drag the kids out virtually kicking and screaming. They did sleep well, though.
Address: Tel Aviv University campus, Klausner St., Gate 2
Hours: Sundays-Thursday, 4 P.M.-7 P.M., Fridays: 9 A.M.-1 P.M. Hour are expanded during school breaks and holidays.
Cost: NIS 40 for children and adults.
Transportation: Several bus lines stop right by the museum. There is also a paid parking lot nearby.
Yaacov Agam’s famous ‘Fire and Water Fountain’ in the center of Dizengoff Square. Photo by Ariel Schalit THIS STORY IS BY Yasmin Kaye
When it was built in the 1930s, Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square was a pleasant spot with plenty of trees, shaded benches and a fountain in the center around which traffic circled. But in a bid to ease the growing congestion in the area, the municipality made the controversial decision to introduce a new split-level layout in 1978. The center of the square was elevated above street level, where Dizengoff, Reines and Pinsker streets meet, with traffic flowing underneath.
But this well-intentioned step turned out to be a bit of a disaster: Residents loathed the final result and some declared it a prime example of poor city planning. It may have lessened congestion, but the former finery of the square was replaced with a rather somber concrete zone, lacking in shade, character, and appeal.
To make matters worse, pedestrians were effectively cut off from the street, creating a clear delineation between them and motorists, and entirely changing the atmosphere of the area.
Perhaps to brighten up the place a bit, a colorful fountain was placed in the center of the square in 1986. The “Fire and Water Fountain” was designed by renowned Israeli artist Yaacov Agam, also responsible for the eye-catching facade of the Dan Hotel on the Tel Aviv promenade.
But the new layout remained highly unpopular with residents, and the former meeting spot became a place people hurried past. Over the years, the square grew shabbier and shabbier, and the only people who seemed to linger were the local punks, who became synonymous with the square, occupying its benches around the clock.
As the square grew shabbier so did Agam’s fountain – which was another bone of contention thanks to its high maintenance costs. But the artist fought for years to restore the fountain to its former glory, finally winning his case against the municipality. The renovation was completed last year.
While the square’s heyday is far behind it – or maybe still yet to come – the newly renovated fountain has brightened the atmosphere up a bit and is well worth a visit. Agam’s rainbow-colored signature style is exemplified here in a complex kinetic sculpture, with the main section of the fountain consisting of a set of brightly-colored jagged wheels placed horizontally on top of each other. An automated mechanism rotates the wheels, giving onlookers a unique view from each angle. When in operation, the sculpture also plays music, sends jets of water soaring skyward, and even spits fire out from its center.
Yakov Agam next to the beachfront hotel whose exterior he designed. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
This slightly bizarre sight provides a much-needed contrast to the rest of the square, which is – let’s face it – still rather dour. But even as the buses belch out diesel fumes below and pedestrians stride determinedly across the intersection on their way elsewhere, the square also has other attractions, such as the bi-weekly antiques and secondhand goods market, held every Tuesday and Friday.
Back in 2011, the municipality announced the results of a resident’s poll to determine the square’s future. The majority of respondents preferred that the square return to street level with an underground parking lot underneath. At the moment, the plans seem to have stalled and the future of the square remains uncertain.