Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jaffa, Yafo, Old Yafo............

They are all one and the same. One of the oddities of Israel is that everyone is absolutely sure that all of the Jewish (Old Testament) and Christian (New Testament) events occured somewhere in the general vicinity of where they are said to have happened but no one is really sure about EXACTLY where they did occur. Hence, the most common term I heard is "tradition says it happened here." Israel is like a religious Disneyland for believers. It is like Six Flags for three faiths. Jerusalem is like an E-ticket for every sect or congregation in the world. For Jews it is Ground Zero, it's Space Mountain, it just doesn' t get any better.

Jaffa is the place where it all began. It is said that, when God got fed up with his creatures, He brought the Great Flood on the world to wipe it clean and start fresh. It is said that after Noah's Ark landed on Mount Ararat, Noah's youngest son founded the city and named it "Yafo" which is Hebrew for beautiful. It is a very beautiful city and has a distinct flavor all it's own. It is to Tel Aviv as LaJolla is to San Diego. Quaint, sea-side, artsy. When we walked into the Franciscan St. Peter's Church I had a funny moment with a very attractive older Jewish woman standing in the church looking very quizical at a Catholic confessional. She looked at me, looked at the confessional again, pointed to it and said to me, "psychology", smiled and walked away. It caught me as being very funny, maybe you had to be there. The Frank Meizler gallery was nice. Cats abound in Jaffa. Cats are everywhere in Israel. The local fisherman tending to nets in the harbor was fun to watch. Jaffa was nice but it was time to eat and we headed toward the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Time waits for no one and neither does my appetite.

Lunch was at a "Sandwich Factory". Excellent kosher food. I delighted in the hustle and bustle of being in the financial district. Salads are abundant in the daily diet of Israeli's and this place turned out some great ones. The guy working to make my sandwich had spent a few years in New Jersey after his service in the Israeli army and enjoyed our quick conversation. I liked the pulse of Tel Aviv then and admire it more after a week. Fun, full of contrast, accomodating.

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