Yesterday began in the north of Israel, with a visit to the mystical city of Tsfat. Walking around the city we were truly walking in the footsteps of some of the greats of Jewish history, and especially those who were responsible for the development of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). We visited the synagogues where Joseph Caro and Isaac Luria prayed, feeling a tangible link back over 500 years of Jewish history. And as we walked the city streets you understand why today Tsfat is home to so many artists; there is something about the city which can only truly be expressed through the work of artists.
From Tsfat we got on the bus to head for Tel Aviv, the final major stop on our Israel tour. For me, Tel Aviv is “my Israel”. I have been coming to this city since before I can remember. It was here that my parents were married, it was here that my great-grandparents moved in the 1920s, it is here that my family in Israel live.
After a quick stop in Jaffa we headed to South Tel Aviv; to the neighborhood where my Saba (grandfather) was born, and where the family business was centered for well over half a century. I always visit this neighborhood with him, popping into shops and saying hello to all of his old friends; but this was the first time I had ever been there as part of the formal itinerary of an Israel trip. I was excited to gain a new perspective on my Saba’s neighborhood.
Our walking tour was really a food tour, sampling the wares of the various communities who settled the neighborhood. The first stop was at Haim Rafael, who had a selection of olives and pickles which I cannot do justice to in words. All I can say is that the flavors and varieties were extraordinary – I even had a pickled radish for the first time. They have been there since 1958, around the corner from my family shop, and so as we finished I couldn’t resist asking if he knew David and Eli Neumann (my great-grandfather and grandfather). His response was Bevadai! Of course, we bought knives from them.
There were many enjoyable parts to this day, but the experience of touring around my Saba’s neighborhood, and hearing about my family’s place in that community was a real highlight.