Visitors to the city would not have a particular reason to seek out this street, which connects Dizengoff and Ibn
Gvirol, just south of Nordau Blvd., but it's very much worth a visit. The square around Basel Towers (at the Ibn Gvirol end)
has a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes with a very relaxed, neighborhood atmosphere. The square is formed by the streets
Basel, Ashtori HaFarhi, Alkalay, and HaShlah. On the Basel leg are a number of cafes, including the ever-popular Basel Cafe'
(open daily for breakfasts and light meals; child friendly) an excellent wine-and-cheese shop, and a branch of Tushiya Bakery
(breads and cakes). Ashtori HaFarhi St. has a variety of restaurants, including hummus and sushi; a branch of Candles on Sheinkin
which also features the natural soaps from another shop on Sheinkin St. (see below); and B.Z.T, which specializes in housewares
but often has some Israeli-made products which are out of the ordinary. Aden, at 3 Alkalay, is a cooperative of four jewelry
designers and features their beautiful work; most of it in silver and gold.
In the unfortunate chance that one needs first-aid medical attention, the Magen David Adom station on HaShlah St.
(near Nordau) has a walk-in facility.
The jury is still out on the urban struggle between shopping streets and malls taking place in Tel Aviv, as it has
in so many cities around the world. An effort is currently underway to revitalize Dizengoff St., which used to be synonymous
with style. It still has a number of shops which make a visit to it worthwhile, as does the recent addition of a charming
series of sculptures along a central segment.
A metal sculpture by David Gerstein points the way to Rosenfeld Gallery.
Some will argue that the proliferation of malls is responsible for the street's decline, but they would be overlooking
a different key factor. Whereas it used to be a favorite pastime to converge on the center of Tel Aviv for the sake of strolling
on Dizengoff (even generating a slang word in Hebrew meaning to do just that, li-hizdangeff), the preferred venue for this
is now the seaside promenade. This loss of pedestrian traffic had an understandable ripple effect, including negative impact
on the various shops and restaurants. This was further exacerbated by two terrorist incidents which took place in the mid-90s
and the fact that low-end shops and eateries began to proliferate around the area of Dizengoff Circle. Now, there are signs
that renovation of the Bauhaus-style buildings in the vicinity is contributing to upgrading the area.
In fact, the problematic portion is only the central one between Dizengoff Circle and Arlozorov St. Below the circle,
the Dizengoff Center Mall is extremely popular and busy, while, north of Arlozorov, there is a proliferation of Israeli-designer
boutiques, popular cafes, and upscale shops featuring European fashions, and fine jewelry.
Dizengoff Circle Architecture
Dizengoff and King George Streets Buses 5, 13, 24, 25, 47, 48, 61, 62 (1, 2, 66 from the South) Shops are open from
9:00 am or 10:00 am, Sun. to Thurs., until as late as 9:00 pm; 3:00 pm on Fri.; cinema and some food outlets open Friday night
and Saturday. Fast-food and cafes galore.
The floors of this mall, which straddles both sides of Dizengoff, are very confusing. Because of the way they are
ramped around an atrium (similar layouts on each side of the street), getting to the opposite side of the atrium involves
changing levels and a circuitous walk. Escalators only go up, so stairs must be used for descending. Both a bridge and an
underpass connect between the two sides of the street. Wheelchair access is augmented by elevators.
The variety of shops is dizzying. The following are worthy of note and are all located on the side of the Hamashbir
Gold Optic (entrance level) - If you need emergency help with your glasses, Motti and Eli are the guys to give it
to you. Superior selection and service.
Lev Cinema multiplex (uppermost level)
Max Brenner Chocolates (upper level) - Handmade Israeli chocolates which are a great indulgent treat and make a lovely
host/hostess gift if you are invited to an Israeli home.
Tee-shirt shop on the entrance level, Hamashbir side; quality selection of souvenir shirts, including custom appliques.
Hamashbir department store, in-store boutiques for Israeli designers
Golf (entrance level) - Tailored Israeli fashions.
Topper (entrance level) - Young Israeli fashions.
Zara - Spanish fashion chain (next to Hamashbir).
Rosh Indiani (lower level) - Young Israeli fashions.
Click (roughly in the middle of the top floor, above Gold Optic) - high-quality selection of Israeli crafts which
makes a trip to this mall worth the effort, Judaica, hand-crafted jewelry (silver, gold, semi-precious stones), and art (sculpture,
Northward on Dizengoff
From Dizengoff Circle, going northwards to Arlozorov, the following bear noting, along with the good-quality jewelers,
Judaica, and souvenir shops. Whereas city bylaws used to require shops to close at 7:00 pm, along with an afternoon "siesta"
and a full day or afternoon off on Tuesday, the city is now encouraging the shops to remain open until 9:00 pm, without the
afternoon break or Tuesday closings. Increasingly, many are doing so.
Chen Cinema multiplex (Dizengoff Circle)
Hod Cinema multiplex (arcade parallel to Frishman)
Steimatzky's - Two shops of the largest Israeli book chain (plus various Israeli souvenirs, newspapers in English
from around the world, etc.); one on either side of Frishman St., on Dizengoff.
Gideon Oberson - 36 Gordon St., near Dizengoff. Israeli beachwear, plus casual and eveningwear by this noted designer
and his daughter.
Dorin Frankfurt - 164 Dizengoff, main showroom of one of Israel's dynamic young designers.
Gottex - 148 Dizengoff, showroom of Israel's world-famous beachwear designer; also features resort and eveningwear.
Open 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, daily.
Book Boutique - 190 Dizengoff (in the arcade), a used-book store which also buys books and magazines from individuals
for credit against purchase; very convenient when you run out of reading material for the beach.
Landmark restaurants along this stretch include the Pinati Cafe', near the corner of Frishman; Cafe' Kassit, long
a hangout of the literati and various Tel Aviv personalities and characters; Keton (East-European style, but not kosher),
near the corner of Jean Jaures St.; and Cafe' Batya (East-European style; kosher meat but kitchen is not rabbinically supervised)
at the corner of Arlozorov. Those seeking kosher food will likely enjoy the Pizza Hut on the opposite corner.
Continuing northward, stores become less dense but more upscale, and trees proliferate. Israeli designers who have
boutiques along this stretch include Yuval Caspin, Ilana Efrati ("Line"), Jerry Melitz, and Gershon Bram.
[Just past Ilana Efrati's boutique, near Nordau Blvd., is a neighborhood grocery. Ask Yossi for a carton of his sublime,
lightly marinated herring or boned-skinned-sliced smoked lakerda.]
The Silberstein Cafe' features excellent baked goods and light meals. There's another shop of Max Brenner Chocolates
at the corner of Dizengoff and Nordau, next to which is Octave, which provides Internet service by the half hour and hour.
Opposite is Cafe' Hafukh, a popular hangout, and further along, at the corner of Malachi St., is the first Ben & Jerry's
in the country. [Nipping into Malachi, one comes upon one of Tel Aviv's oldest and most beautiful neighborhood parks, Gan
Hanevi'im - "Prophets Park," so named since most of the streets in the area are named for the prophets.] On the same side
of the street, slightly further, are two more excellent cafes, Gitanes and Cafe' de la Paix. Opposite are upscale shops for
European fashions, crystal, jewelry, and the like.
At Yirmiyahu, turning to the right leads to a number of restaurants, including Yossi Peking (excellent kosher Chinese),
Shoshana's Hungarian Blintzes (kosher), Hummus Ashkara (kosher and possibly the best in the city), and Jasmine Garden (Chinese
cuisine and patronized by Chinese, not kosher). Just before Jasmine Garden, at 52 Yirmiyahu, is a small place which has arguably
the best grilled chicken in the city (kosher). The unpresuming sign is for Ace Sausages, but the specialty is this wonderful
chicken, which can be enjoyed at the counter with salad and side orders for under $5. [Yiddish and German speakers can enjoy
the fact that the owner's name is Fliegelman ...]
Opposite is the Pe'er Cinema multiplex. Behind that is the beginning of the Yarkon River Park. If one continues along
on the street leading leftward from the cinema and continues for a few hundred meters/yards on Shimon Hatarsi St., one comes
to a small square with an extraordinary park. Walking around its periphery reveals it is both an archaeological site (where
ancient tombs were found) and an historical one (commemorating a British victory against the Turks), along with having a small
children's playground and a landscaped garden with waterfall. [Continuing in the same easterly direction leads to Ibn Gvirol
Back at Dizengoff, turning left on Yirmiyahu leads quickly to the Mediterranean, including the Old Tel Aviv Port and
the restaurants on Yordei Hasira St. Ben Yehuda Street is very close to Dizengoff at this point, and returning southward is
easy, with convenient bus lines on Dizengoff (1, 2, 56; 5 south of Nordau) and Ben Yehuda (4, 9, 55) , along with the No.
Buses 7a, 13, 61, 62, 66.
The official name of this huge circle is Heh b'Iyar, the date the State of Israel was proclaimed. Kikar HaMedina translates
to "the State circle." Quite unlike the humble beginnings of the country, the circle almost-exclusively features upscale,
expensive shops such as Gianni Versace, Yves Saint-Laurent, Donna Karan, and their ilk, along with jewelers, pricey delis,
banks, and a handful of more pedestrian shops.
Somehow, the great plans for the circle (which is mainly accessed by Jabotinsky St. and Weizmann Blvd., each at two
points) never quite got off the ground. The lawns and potential facilities at its center were never developed, leaving a vast
expanse around which all the shops and expensive apartments are situated.
What might be most remarkable about Kikar HaMedina is the paucity of cafes or restaurants; likely because of a combination
of high rents and the relative soulless nature of the street. On the southern segment of Weizmann Blvd. (coming from Arlozorov
St.), however, is the Beit Leissin Theater, which features a popular-priced coffee shop, and a large resto-cafe', Croissonette.
Nachlat Binyamin St.
Ceramicist Michal Ben-Yosef is a regular at the Nachlat Binyamin Crafts Fair.
Buses 1, 2, 4, 13, 24, 25, 47, 48 (and any going to Carmelit Terminal; alight at the stop for "the shuk" -- Carmel
This popular street has several personalities, depending on the time of day, the day of the week, and whether one
is on the pedestrian-mall segment or that which carries traffic. Every Tuesday and Friday, the pedestrian mall (which includes
branching streets) is the venue of an excellent and lively crafts fair which is at least as popular for Israelis as it is
for visitors. Much of the day, but particularly at night, a number of the cafes are popular meeting places for the Gay-Lesbian
community, along with others taking a break from the nearby dance clubs on Allenby Rd. Shops feature a sundry variety of goods
from wine and wooden toys to yard goods and women's fashions, and there is a range of restaurants and cafes offering kishke
to quiche [Kapulsky, near Allenby, is kosher; few others are].
Several influences affect the nature of the street, along with the above: The proximity to Sheinkin St. (on the other
side of Allenby), which is a natural complement, the location parallel to the Carmel Market ("the shuk"), and the mix of commerce
(wholesale and retail) in the vicinity. It is also experiencing some transition, though not many of the architecturally interesting
buildings have been refurbished.
Together with Sheinkin St., Nachlat Binyamin is a successful example of how an aging urban area can be revitalized.
During the early 1980s, then-mayor Shlomo ("Cheech") Lahat took the controversial step of creating the pedestrian mall. This
segment had a concentration of shops featuring yard goods, and the proprietors preferred having the exhaust-spewing buses
going through, fearing there would be a decline in walk-in traffic. Around the same time, the mayor instituted a system of
easements for building/renovation permits in the Sheinkin St. area, where the population was aging. In tandem, the resulting
effect was a rejuvenation of the entire area, both in demographic profile and spirit. Ultimately, the merchants on branching
streets demanded the pedestrian mall be expanded to include them.
South of the pedestrian portion, Nachlat Binyamin still features a happy patchwork of businesses. It's worth wandering
down for a delicious and inexpensive meal at Cafe' Birnbaum (31 Nachlat Binyamin; kosher dairy) or seeking out the specialty
spice shops, where one might find such treasures as dried Persian lemons.
Buses as for Nachlat Binyamin, plus 5 from the Rothschild Blvd. end
This is Tel Aviv's one-street Village or Soho and has even yielded a term: Sheinkinite, denoting a person who is hip
and socially-politically liberal. The surrounding neighborhood is peopled by a combination of the very young, the elderly,
and the Orthodox, and all coexist in harmony. This is particularly in evidence on Fridays, when, next to the park at the center
of the street, one is likely to see stands with leaflets for liberal causes side-by-side with Orthodox men offering passersby
the opportunity to fulfill the commandment of donning tefillin. It was the natural place for the first Israeli-Arab woman
elected to the Knesset (Israel's parliament) to do a victory walk-about among the many sidewalk resto-cafes.
Part of the Sheinkin scene: freshly made crepes spread with Nutella and chopped walnuts. [photo: Mimi Hiller]
The street is bounded by Allenby Rd. and Rothschild Blvd. Entering from the Allenby end, there is a shop a few doors
in on the right-hand side which offers an eclectic selection of souvenirs and Judaica much like those to be found in the Old
City of Jerusalem. Prices are reasonable, and there are some gems to be found. Tastes and interests being what they are, every
shop bears examination. A few, though, are particularly interesting. Michal Negrin, at 11 Sheinkin, specializes in costume
jewelry and objects which feature either roses or angels (few men make it more than several steps into the store and are usually
seen standing timorously in front of the air-conditioning unit next to the entrance or bolting for the nearest cafe').
Michal Negrin's shop.
Further down the street, past Cafe' Kazze (wonderful dairy and vegetarian dishes) is Candles on Sheinkin, at 27 Sheinkin.
Nearby is the wildly popular Orna and Ela restaurant, at 33 Sheinkin. Further up the street, on the opposite side, are two
special shops, one selling a magnificent array of natural soaps by weight, and Kakadu, an Israeli company which creates beautiful
home and work accessories in wood, including many which are not heavy and pack easily (such as colorful place mats).
They're with us, for better or for worse. The Hebrew word created to mean mall is kenyon. So, if you sometimes see
the word canyon appearing incongruously, this is likely the reference.
Azrieli Center - This is among the largest of the malls in the city; located on the first floors of the massive towers
which can be seen from most of Tel Aviv and points beyond. It is accessible via all of the buses which travel on Petach Tikva
Rd. and the Shalom Rd. (Derech Hashalom) train station. The mall features a large number of middle-to-upper-range stores,
food outlets, cinema multiplex, and a large health club.
City Garden Mall (Gan Ha'ir) - This is a small and aesthetic complex of largely upscale shops, plus cafes and restaurants,
located on Ibn Gvirol St., next to City Hall. Also located here (roof level) are the Slik (Israeli-folklore nightspot) and
the Enav Cultural Center.
Dizengoff Center - See Dizengoff Street.
Kenyon Ayalon - This was the first of the American-style malls in the country, anchored by large department and grocery
stores, with various smaller ones, a food court, and cinema multiplex between. It is located at the northeastern edge of Tel
Aviv, bordering on Bnei Brak; best accessed by taxi or Bus No. 27.
London Mini-stores - The complex at the corner of Ibn Gvirol St. and Shaul Hamelech Blvd. includes a number of stores,
large range of food outlets, a 24-hour (except Saturday) pharmacy, the Tzavta Theater, and Limor Cinema. Buses 12, 26, 32,
Opera Tower - Don't confuse this with "the opera house;" the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center. This is the terraced
tower at the foot of Allenby Rd., overlooking the Mediterranean and the seaside promenade. Along with resto-cafes and a cinema
multiplex, it features a number of excellent little shops on its first three floors, including silver, jewelry, and crafts.
It takes its name from the fact that it stands on the site of Tel Aviv's first opera house, and its design (the pointed archways)
pays homage to the style of the original building. Accessible by all buses traveling the length of Ben Yehuda St., most of
those which travel on Allenby, and those which serve Jaffa.
Ramat Aviv Mall - This upscale mall is located in the wealthy Ramat Aviv neighborhood, near Tel Aviv University. It
is bounded by Namir Rd., Brodetzky St. and Einstein St.; buses 13, 25, 27, 90. Along with the many superior Israeli shops,
cinema multiplex, and food outlets, it has a great activity center for children, featuring inflated enclosures for bouncing,
sliding, and crawling.
Tel Aviv Central Bus Station - This may well be the largest mall, per se, in the city, in terms of both size and the
number of establishments. The shops and food outlets are diverse beyond description and include the good, the bad, and the
tacky. As the name implies, it is the main terminus for both inter-city and Tel Aviv buses, including the No. 4 and 5 bus
lines and sherut taxis. The main Tel Aviv Tourist Information Bureau is located on the sixth floor. A bus map of Tel Aviv,
which is also an excellent street map, can be purchased at Dan Information for about $0.75.
Buses 1, 2, 4, 13, 24, 25, 47, 48, or any which travel along Allenby Rd. or to the Carmelit Terminal. Alight at the
Carmel Market stop.
Twice weekly, on Tuesday and Friday, the Nachlat Binyamin pedestrian mall (parallel to the Carmel Market) is dotted
with colorful parasols and tables upon tables of crafts for every taste and style. Silver jewelry, ceramics, sculpted candlesticks,
mobiles, wind chimes, wooden toys, name signs, and myriad novelties -- many of them worthy of judged shows -- are displayed
and sold by local craftspeople.
Locals and visitors, alike, rub shoulders -- particularly on Fridays -- in a relaxed and festive atmosphere ... here
a string quartet of Russian immigrants playing waltzes and light classics ... there a troupe of South American-Indian musicians
playing songs of the Andes ... there a traditional Druze tent, with women baking large, thin pitas on a campfire oven (which
can be purchased -- spread with either chocolate cream or tangy labane, sprinkled with za'atar, -- and eaten in the tent).
Innumerable cups of coffee are sipped and brunches devoured at outdoor tables, while the occasional street performer draws
a crowd of onlookers, who express their appreciation in the coin of the realm.
[Photo: Sharon Stein Schach]
By about 10:00 am, most vendors have finished setting up their tables and arraying their wares, continuing through
at least 4:00 pm (later in summer). Each is licensed to participate by the city, which has a committee for screening the craftspeople
and their offerings and supervising the smooth operation of the fair.
All speak English (with many speaking additional languages; particularly Spanish or French), and many provide gift
wrapping and/or appropriate packaging for fragile items. Some accept credit cards, but most deal only in cash. Displayed prices
are usually firm; this is largely not a place for bargaining.
Many will want to make this their first stop for shopping. The pedestrian mall is fully accessible to wheelchairs.
[Photo: Karen Selwyn]
Buses 1, 2, 4, 13, 24, 25, 47, 48, or any which travel along Allenby Rd. or to the Carmelit Terminal.
Have your camera ready. Be prepared to be jostled. Beware of pickpockets. But, don't miss it!
Small hills of the colorful fruits and vegetables of the season rising on either side of lanes narrowed by the endless
stands ... freshly squeezed glasses of citrus juice, hawked by its vendor as "health in a cup" ... factory seconds and overruns
of clothing to outfit young and old ... bread and rolls straight from the oven ("not hot -- not pay") ... cases filled with
cheeses ... vats brimming with olives ... barrels filled with herring ... buckets upon buckets of fresh flowers in brilliant
profusion ... the cacophony of stall owners calling out their prices in singsong.
[Photo: Elaine Radis]
Tel Aviv's Shuk HaCarmel, most commonly simply called "the shuk" [market] has to be experienced to be believed. The
hard-working stall owners are up before dawn to stock their stands and work a long day until early evening, providing the
freshest produce at likely the lowest prices in the city. It's one of the best shows in town, and it's free.
Consider buying a bit of this and a few pieces of that -- perhaps a carton of cleaned and sliced smoked fish or herring,
cheese, some fresh bread, olives or pickles, and a bottle of something to drink -- and walk to a nearby beach for an instant
picnic. Your memory will be challenged to remember something more enjoyable.
[Photo: Karen Selwyn]
Note that, coming from the Allenby end, the first third of the shuk is dominated by clothing. On the streets branching
off to the right, the main product is poultry; not of particular interest. Where Rambam St. enters, on the left, is the fresh
citrus stand. In the lower third (i.e., the segment near the Carmelit Terminal), one finds the fresh bakery on the right.
Past that is an excellent cheese vendor, on the same side. Still further, a few hundred yards before the end, is a vendor
selling olives and excellent-quality preserved fish (herring, smoked, salted, dried, etc.), which he cleans, slices, then
packs in a plastic carton. [Yuval is a great example of the new generation in the market, as he is taking over from his father.
He loves to speak English and is assiduous about his products.]
[Photo: Karen Selwyn]
The market is not inaccessible to wheelchairs, but the pavements are not particularly even, and the crowds can be
excessive. For a more controlled experience which still affords getting a flavor of the place, consider approaching from the
southern end, near the parking lots/Carmelit Terminal or from one of the connecting streets from Nachlat Binyamin (Rambam
St.), and traversing only a segment. Otherwise, the most convenient starting point is from Allenby Rd.
NOTE: Years and years ago, the market was a favorite target for attempts by terrorists. Consequently, it tends to
be heavily patrolled at entrance points. It is fair to say that there has not been any problem there in well over a decade,
if not longer. At times of tension, however [the public is alerted via the news media], I do not go there and urge my guests
not to, either. --RH
Jaffa Flea Market
Buses 10, 41, 46 to Yefet St.; 8, 25 to stop before Clock Tower Sq.
Start by treating yourself to a fresh-from-the-oven pita at the Aboulafia Bakery, walk up the street, and turn left.
You will have no doubt that you are approaching the Jaffa Flea Market and soon find yourself at a row of shops primarily featuring
oriental rugs and, more likely than not, at least one cluster of people huddled over a backgammon board [shesh-besh, from
the Persian and the origin of the game]. The market extends along this street and those going off to the left. A series of
left turns will eventually bring you back to Yefet St.
The entire area is colorful, fun, and provides an interesting glimpse at some of the segments which make up Israeli
society, from recent immigrants selling used household goods arrayed on the pavements to shop owners offering a wide array
of merchandise, both old and new. There are some excellent-quality items to be found here, such as the rugs, and no small
amount of junk. It is a place for bargaining over prices, so knowing the psychology of it is helpful. Have no doubt but that
the sellers have a keen appreciation of the value and quality of their inventories. If the shopper is knowledgeable, though,
there are some good buys to be had (such as in rugs and some Judaica collectibles).
A quick lesson in bargaining, Middle-Eastern style: The seller will throw out a price, thereby establishing a point
of reference. Even if you think it's reasonable, you refuse. He then asks what you're willing to pay.
Hmmmm .... "If he said 100 shekels, I can't very well insult him and say 30." But, you can -- and should, if not even
a lower figure. Or, you might shrug and say you're not really all that interested -- certainly not for anything higher than
x amount. Shrug again and start walking away. If he yells after you with another offer, consider it; either accept or make
a counter-offer. Eventually, if he doesn't yell after you, you'll know your offer is under the threshold he considers realistic.
Even if you don't buy a thing in the entire market area, it's great fun to poke around. Those who are not concerned
about packing bulky items will find some beautiful copperware, here. Note that there are two arcades which are worth seeking
out, but take note of the fact that a lot of the items within them (clothing, earrings, and the like) are not Israeli, but
imported from India and the Far East.
The morning, particularly in the early part of the week, is the best time to visit for serious bargain hunting. Many
of the vendors have a superstition about making the first sale of the day or week to get them off to a good start, referring
to it by the Arabic word siftakh. Like so many other places, it's not the deal you made, but the deal you think you made.
So, some vendors will use the siftakh concept to make you feel their loss is your gain. Still, the flea market is more about
fun than caution and well worth the visit.
Shopping may be part of the fun of the visiting experience, but there is invariably the point that finding gifts and
souvenirs becomes a chore; especially for the "person who has everything," or if you're the type who wants to avoid things
which are emblazoned with "Israel" or camels and palm trees. Tel Aviv Insider also welcomes your additions to the ideas listed
Spices and seasonings
This land was always an important segment on the ancient Spice Route, and the tradition lingers. Devoted cooks may
well appreciate the following. Where possible, buy them from specialty spice vendors (such as on Nachlat Binyamin St. or others
in that section of the city). Otherwise, many are available in supermarkets and small groceries in cellophane packets, which
pack more conveniently than the shaker bottles.
Za'atar - a wonderful, mildly pungent blend (reminiscent of oregano, but more subtle) of dried hyssop, usually mixed
with sesame seeds, sumac, and sometimes salt. It's wonderful sprinkled on a variety of foods, from yogurt or young cheeses
to meats, or very simply enjoyed by dipping bread into it. Olive oil particularly releases its flavors.
Dried Persian lemons - Available only at specialty shops; an essential of Persian cuisine.
Sumac - while related to what North Americans know as "poison sumac," only those with known food allergies need to
be cautious about using this. It has a lemon-like flavor and, in Middle-Eastern restaurants, it is often sprinkled on raw
onions. This is generally found only in spice shops.
Hawai'ej - a mixture of spices used in Yemenite cuisine. Note that there are two different blends; one to be added
to soup and one for coffee (i.e., to be added to Turkish coffee for extra zip).
Cardamom - available around the world, but probably less expensive here.
Saffron - less pricey than in North America, but not cheap. Ask for it in specialty shops, as it's not often displayed.
Spice mixtures for grilled chicken, meat, or fish. These are popular in Israeli cooking, but note that they usually
Powdered soup mixes in plastic jars (chicken-flavored and pareve, beef, onion). These are not just for soups, but
serve as great flavorings in many forms of recipes. The pareve forms are particularly appreciated by people who keep kosher
Coffee is of Arabic origin, and what is widely known as "Turkish" coffee has its sources in Arab/Bedouin culture.
It can be purchased in pouches, tins, and vacuum packs in grocery stores, or special aromatic blends can be purchased in specialty
Music and Videotapes
Israeli music of all styles and unique videotape titles are available in many music and book stores. When buying a
videotape, make sure it is appropriate to your home broadcast system (i.e., NTSC for North America; PAL for Europe and most
Those which have markings implying they have anything to do with the Israeli army (IDF/Israel Defense Forces) may
be cute to some, but note that they aren't genuine, and most are manufactured in China. Check out the tee-shirts by Lipti
(sold in many shops plus the company's own store on Hayarkon St., near Allenby), a growing number on ecology themes, and the
like, available in better shops, and the variety in the tee-shirt shop on the entrance floor of Dizengoff Center.
Key chains, magnetic picture frames with Israeli motifs, Kakadu wooden crafts (especially table mats), Druze weavings
worked into a variety of products, Bedouin and Bedouin-style embroideries.
Crafts & Judaica
There are innumerable shops for crafts and Judaica along Ben Yehuda St. and Allenby Rd., along with other locations
such as Dizengoff St. and Jaffa. The following have particularly fine selections or singular offerings.
Click - Dizengoff Center (corner Dizengoff and King George Streets), Gate 3, two floors above entrance. The shop contains
a high-quality selection of Israeli crafts, Judaica, hand-crafted jewelry (silver, gold, semi-precious stones), and art (sculpture,
Eretz Yisrael Museum Gift Shop - 2 Haim Levanon St., Ramat Aviv. [See Museums & Historic Homes page for buses
Gabrieli Weavers - 12 Mazal Dagim, Old Jaffa. Hand-woven tallit [prayer shawl] sets, including custom orders, plus
various other textiles (wall hangings, pillow covers, cloaks, bags, and the like). Open until late every evening, except Friday.
High Line (Adriana) - 15 Frishman St. (between Hayarkon and Ben Yehuda). This is a small shop which is big on quality.
Adriana has a background in the hotel industry, so is also a font of information.
Mazkit - 94 Ben Yehuda St. This shop continues in the tradition of the defunct WIZO shop which used to be located
at this address, stocking a wide variety of Israeli folklore items, Judaica, and jewelry, including many which are handcrafted.
(Note that this is not the equally defunct Maskit shop.)
Tel Aviv Museum of Art Gift Shop - 27 Shaul Hamelekh Blvd. [See Museums & Historic Homes page for buses and hours.]
Shlush Shloshim - Ceramic Arts Gallery, 30 Chelouche St., Neve Tzedek. Permanent exhibition and sale of ceramic works
by members of the "Shlush Shloshim" co-operative.
Gold, Diamonds and Fine Jewelry
Israel excels at producing machine-made gold chains, largely for export. The Israel Standards Institute has created
a symbol for use by manufacturers who have submitted their goods for inspection of gold content -- a gold harp -- and is urging
consumers to look for it when making such purchases. There are five variations:
- Gold harp alone: 22 or 24 karat
- Gold harp with the number 875: 21 karat
- Gold harp with the number 750: 18 karat
- Gold harp with the number 585: 14 karat
- Gold harp with the number 375: 9 karat.
Examine markings under magnification; imported chains should also have assay verification.
You will find jewelers price machine-made chains per gram of weight, with the shops on Allenby Rd. usually being slightly
cheaper than those on Ben Yehuda St. The latter, however, are more likely to have English-speaking staff.
Diamonds and Colored Stones
When it comes to buying diamonds and other gems, there are truly good buys available, since Israel is a major center
for the cutting and polishing of diamonds and precious stones, especially emeralds, along with semi-precious stones. But,
there may also be some risks or uncertainties in terms of value, unless you are truly knowledgeable. Some cautions to consider:
Don't buy on impulse; make comparisons.
Don't allow yourself to be pressured.
Don't allow a tour guide to limit you to a certain store; his/her interest may be more in the commission the shop
pays than your welfare.
Remember the above if you go on a "free" tour which ends up at the hosting company's showroom.
Demand an appraisal certificate from a certified gemologist.
A shop's claim to offering "tax-free" merchandise to tourists is genuine if it either provides you with the filled-in
forms for V.A.T. refund upon your departure from Israel or requires you to claim the purchase only upon departure from the
country. As for "duty-free", bear in mind that an item cannot be both "made in Israel" and duty free, since duty is levied
only on imports.
Ultimately, however, the majority of jewelers are fine and reputable. Of those which advertise widely in the tourist-info
magazines, the most reliable is probably H. Stern Diamonds and Jewelry, which has shops in the major Tel Aviv hotels (as well
as the major hotels in other cities), the Ramat Aviv Mall, plus in the departure lounge of Ben-Gurion International Airport
(including loose diamonds and other stones). H. Stern features both Israeli-made and imported jewelry in a wide range of styles
and prices, from charms and pendants to magnificent gem-studded creations.
The company's duty-free claim is genuine, being the only jeweler to have its own bonded warehouse. In addition, with
close to 200 shops around the world, H. Stern backs all purchases with an international guarantee.
Very fine and elegant jewelry is offered at Padani, at 185 Hayarkon St. (opposite the Hilton, with other shops around
the city). Padani is the exclusive representative in Israel for such European companies as Cartier, Piaget and others. The
company also offers its own designs, including extraordinary pieces with "invisible" settings.
A number of fine jewelers can be found on Dizengoff St., Heh b'Iyar (Kikar HaMedina), and various shopping areas and
malls around the city.
This is a progressive sales tax which is added to all goods and services at every stage of distribution or supply
(producer, to wholesaler, to retailer, to consumer). It is a stiff 17%, which is high in American terms, but not in European
ones. Shekel prices on merchandise already include the V.A.T.
Tourists are exempt from V.A.T. when paying for the following in a freely exchanged foreign currency: Accommodations
(hotels, hostels, field schools, and camping); food charged to one's hotel bill; car rental; organized tours, including driver-guide
with vehicle; flights and tours operated by domestic aviation companies; any services purchased abroad via a tour operator
(including meals provided by the tour operator during organized tours).
V.A.T. refund is available on purchases of at least $100 under specific circumstances. (The sum used to be $50, but
changes at the airports/ports of the body providing the refunds resulted in the higher threshold.)
The shop selling the products must be a registered participant in the V.A.T.-refund program. This is usually evident
from signs on or in the shop, but it should be verified.
Payment must be made in a freely exchanged foreign currency.
The $100 minimum must be met for purchases in any single shop. In other words, purchases from different stores cannot
be aggregated for a V.A.T. refund. Separate purchases on different dates in the same shop, however, can be aggregated, so
be sure to save the receipts.
The arrangement does not apply to tobacco products, cameras, film, or other photographic supplies, or electrical appliances.
The salesperson must fill out a regulation form for the purchase and attach receipts. This requires showing your passport,
for properly filling in the form.
At the airport/port, present the form at the desks designated for V.A.T. refund. You must have the products purchased
under this arrangement available for examination. If you are using an advance-check-in service, therefore, you must have the
goods in your carry-on bag and not in the checked luggage.
With close to nine miles (14 kilometers) of sparkling, sandy coastline stretching from near Herzlia to Jaffa, the visitor to Tel
Aviv is never very far from the Mediterranean. The atmosphere along the stretch of beachfront
hotels is that of a pure resort, yet, the city's major centers are only minutes away.
Along this length are 11 guarded beaches, some of them open year round, a marina, a beautiful promenade which is several
miles in length, and most of Tel Aviv's major hotels.
Jogging/Walking: From Nordau Beach
(next to the old Tel Aviv Port) to Jaffa, a paved path parallel
to the beach allows strolling or running virtually uninterruptedly. (There is some vehicular traffic on the northern segment,
but only infrequently.)
The Promenade ("tayelet") : This specially paved segment extends from
south of the marina (Ben-Gurion Blvd.) to the [defunct]
Dolphinarium. Even in the winter, sunny weather draws people here by the droves. During the warm weather of most of the year,
a particularly festive atmosphere prevails on weekends, with strollers enjoying it until the wee hours. Free musical performances
are staged at various points several evenings a week during the months of July and August, while vendors sell everything from
jewelry to silly string.
Marina: Anchorage services
for yachts and cruisers, including Customs and Border Control; yachting and motor-boating schools and rentals; water-sport
equipment rentals, restaurants. (Located near the foot of Arlozorov St.;
entrance next to Carlton Hotel)
Israeli folkdancing: Every Saturday morning, next to beach, on the segment below the Renaissance Hotel (Gordon Beach). Even
if you don't know the steps for joining in, it's great fun to watch.
The 11 guarded beaches generally feature changing facilities and rental of beach beds and parasols. There are also
showers right on the beach for rinsing off the saltwater after swimming.
The importance of going only to guarded beaches cannot be overemphasized. The segments which are not guarded are not
safe for swimming because of dangerous undertows and/or hazardous underwater rocks.
By the same token, it's important to heed the lifeguards on especially windy days. A white flag flying from the lifeguard
station means ideal circumstances, red indicates dangerous conditions, while a black flag means no one is permitted to enter
the water (due to undertows or -- on rare occasions -- contaminants in the water).
The city does a great job of keeping the beaches clean and orderly, and the water is clear and beautiful (tested regularly
for safety). At the height of summer, the water can even feel too warm, reaching temperatures of as much as 27 C/82 F. This
often coincides with the incidence of jellyfish, which should be given a wide berth (because of their sting). NOTE: If you
should be stung by a jellyfish, apply wet sand to the area, initially, then check whether the lifeguard station has any first-aid
treatment. Later, the "burn" can be reduced with vinegar or aloe vera gel. (If you know what the aloe vera plant looks like,
the fresh juice from a leaf is possibly the best treatment. Just break off a piece of leaf and rub it across the affected
There will always be those who bake themselves in the sun all day. Increasingly, however, the locals are taking to
going to the beach only during the early hours of the morning and the late hours of the afternoon; taking care, even then,
to wear head coverings, use sun blocks, and drink large quantities of water. It is advisable not to be in the sun between
10:00 am and 2:00 pm. (If you manage to get a sunburn nonetheless, head for a grocery store and buy a carton of leben or bio-active
yogurt to spread on the burn.) NOTE: Topless sunbathing by women is not permitted on the public beaches. Some hotel pools
Sun beds and parasols: If you see unoccupied ones, set yourself up. Someone will come along from the concession to
collect the rental fee.
"Artic! Cassatta!:" This is the call of many of the vendors who trudge among the sunbathers, selling ice creams and
ices. The prices aren't unreasonable, and the ice pops are refreshing.
Beach bats: Happily, they're not permitted at some beaches. If you hear an indefinable smack/pop when approaching
a beach, it is likely from this game, called matkot by Israelis. It's played by two people with wooden paddles (like enlarged
table-tennis paddles, without the rubber coating) and a hard-rubber ball. The velocity of the ball can get pretty fierce,
so steer clear. On the other hand, if you want to try your hand at it, the paddles and ball can be purchased at toy stores
and some souvenir shops.
The Guarded Beaches (north to south):
The official season is from Independence Day through the Sukkot holiday in the Autumn. Those which are open during
the winter are guarded from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm. For these and all others, the hours in April, May, and September are 7:00
am to 5:00 pm; in June, 7:00 am to 6:00 pm; in July and August, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.
The No. 4 bus/sherut route along Ben Yehuda St. provides easy access to the beaches from Nordau Blvd. to Allenby Rd.
The Cliff (guarded year round): Near the Mandarin and Country Club hotels; adjacent to Herzlia.
Tel Baruch (guarded year round): Near Ramat Aviv; via Propes St. (The area is referred to "knowingly" by locals, since
the expanse between the main highway and the beach is the "business district" of transvestite prostitutes; prostitution is
not illegal/criminal in Israel.)
Nordau (guarded year round): Adjacent to the old Tel Aviv Port; sometimes referred to as Sheraton Beach, since the
first Sheraton Hotel was located nearby. Access is near Nordau Blvd. (Havakook St.). A special feature of this beach is a
walled-off portion for the Orthodox, accommodating their standards of modesty. Use of this segment of the beach is designated
for exclusive use by women and girls on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday; for exclusive use by men and boys on Monday, Wednesday,
and Friday. Since Orthodox Jews do not go to the beach on the Sabbath (Saturday), other women who don't want anyone hitting
on them often take advantage of this section.
Hilton: The beach is public, with the name only referring to the location below the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel. It is favored
by the gay community and widely known as a meeting place (as is Independence Park, which provides access to the beach).
Gordon: At the foot of Gordon St. (near the Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel). Nearby, the Gordon Pool (guarded year round)
is virtually a Tel Aviv institution. The pool is filled every day with filtered seawater; opens at about 5:00 am for those
who want to do their daily laps. The complex includes a gym with fitness equipment. Admission fee.
Frishman (guarded year round): At the foot of Frishman St. (near the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel). It's widely known among
Israelis as a place for singles to meet. NOTE: It's pretty much the norm on all beaches for Israeli men to try hitting on
women -- even when no interest is being returned. Totally ignoring them is probably more effective than engaging in any kind
Bograshov (guarded year round): At the foot of Bograshov St. (near the U.S. embassy).
Jerusalem Beach: At the foot of Allenby Road. The beach was so named by the city to give the people of Jerusalem a
beach ... Access to it by public transportation is particularly convenient (Buses 3, 8, 10, 16, 17, 21, 25, 30, 33, 47, 48,
Aviv: South of Allenby Road.
West: Near the defunct Dolphinarium.
Givat Aliya: Jaffa.