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Tel Aviv: Israel’s Cultural and Financial Capital

Tel Aviv–the bustling, fun, hip, international city. How did it go from piles of sand to the city we know today? From its Scottish urban planner to the origins of its name, there’s more history to Tel Aviv than meets the eye. The city, which transformed from a small town in the 1930s, emulated European cities while fitting its Middle Eastern landscape. Today, it is a hub of technology, culture, diversity and, of course, beach-lovers.

Watch this video and use these prompts to learn about Israel’s beloved city, Tel Aviv.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. In what year was Tel Aviv established?
    • 1901
    • 1909
    • 1911
    • 1919
  2. How did Tel Aviv get its name?
  3. Why did Tel Avivians send oranges to Buckingham Palace in 1936?
  4. How many people live in Tel Aviv today?
    • 250,000
    • 450,000
    • 750,000
    • 1,000,000
  5. Tel Aviv is known for its:
    • Beaches
    • Nightlife
    • Start-up companies
    • Culture
  1. As described in our Media Lab article, Tel Aviv is a thriving international city, in competition with Paris, New York and London. It is the fifth most visited city in the Middle East and Africa. TimeOut calls it the “contemporary hub of Israel, the cultural capital, a culinary mecca and a beach bliss.” One might view this as a remarkable achievement of Zionism. Others might ask why the Jewish state should care about this. What do you think?
  2. Tel Aviv has become known as “the city that never stops.” If you went to Tel Aviv for a week, what would your itinerary look like?
  3. Tel Aviv has become known as a tremendously liberal city. In what ways might the government of Israel celebrate this and what ways might this be challenging for the Israeli government and society?
  1. For 2 thousand years, Jews around the world exclaimed “Next Year in Jerusalem” yet today many Israelis prefer Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as seen in the image of Tel Aviv street graffiti below which reads “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, it’s because of Tel Aviv”. This graffiti is a play on words based on the famous verse from Psalms “”If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.”

    • What is the meaning behind the phrase?
    • Why do you think Tel Aviv is so important and preferable to so many Israelis? How does this impact Israeli society?
  2. Divide your students into small groups and ask each group to research and present a tourist attraction from Israel21c or a “must see site” in Tel Aviv. Students should present the attraction, include a photo or video and give some historical or cultural context.
  3. Engage your students in an experiential learning activity around the theme of Initiative, a theme found in the accompanying video.
  4. Give your students our Kahoot on Tel Aviv!
  1. In many ways, Tel Aviv is the realization of Zionism in the most explicit way, an innovative renewal of Jewish life in its traditional and historic land. Do you see innovation and traditionalism in conflict or as complements to one another?
  2. Conde Nast included both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in its list of top 40 cities in the world. Do you feel more of a connection towards Jerusalem or Tel Aviv? How do you see them as similar to one another and different as well?
  3. In Tel Aviv, one of the people Ari Shavit interviewed in My Promised Land said he “believes that the party-now scene is more relevant than the Peace Now movement.” Why might Israel be more interested in partying than pursuing peace at this point? What does it tell us about Israeli culture?

Experiential learning activity is available for this video

Experiential Learning is a proactive way to educate with a focus on reflection and can take place in any academic setting: day school, supplementary school, camp, youth group, synagogue, college campus or university. 

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