Being at the intersection of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim worlds, Israel offers a fascinating past blended with a modern lifestyle full of different traditions, foods, viewpoints and philosophies. New and exciting experiences make life more interesting, right? Check out these cool and unusual things about amazing Israel.
Ice-cream parlours, sun lounges, volleyball courts, outdoor muscle-gyms and beach restaurants – this isn’t Venice Beach Los Angeles, but Tel Aviv’s own favourite beach, Gordon Beach. No you’re not imagining it – people seem to be playing endless rallies of ping pong on the sand. It’s the paddle ball-game Matkot, in fact, and the locals are mad for it. So work your backhand, get your tan on, and reward yourself with a cocktail on sundown at one of the many beach bars.
Fancy a side-serve of religious pilgrimage with your inking? Well Razzouk Ink may be the very tattoo parlour for you! Situated inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, the shop’s signage boasts the following tagline, “Tattoo With Heritage Since 1300”. Now that’s a business that surely must know what it’s doing. For 700 years the Razzouk family have tattooed religious iconography onto the flesh of local Christians. Coptic by faith, the family learned their trade in Egypt, mostly creating cross design and works depicting Christ’s name. As the pilgrim’s travelled further afield to the Holy Land, they sought a permanent expression of their devotion and Razzouk was the place to get inked. Just as permanent as tattooing your lover of twenty-four hours’ name on you, but surely less risky. Visit Razzouk Ink at 31 St. George St Jerusalem.
Yallah – “Come on, let’s do it! Hebrew
Off-Duty Soldiers with Guns
Israel Defense Force soldiers are allowed the odd weekend off, so you’ll see them wondering the streets in civvies. But how do you know you’ve spotted one? The dead giveaway is the M16 hanging over their shoulder. And no, it’s not the right time to argue with them over who was in the queue first.
Bringing new meaning to the concept of the “chicken dance”, the Kaparot ceremony is a Jewish custom in preparation for Yom Kippur. Kaparot means “atonement”, and chickens get swung over people’s heads as a substitute for a person who seeks atonement for their sins. That’s a whole lot of headspin for sin!
Modern Israeli mixologists are putting their spin on an old tradition. In the early 20th century, a glass of Gazoz was a refreshing mix of soda water and fruit syrup but didn’t stand a chance against the Coca Colas and other brand-name sodas of the mid-century. These days, Gazoz is a summer thirst slayer and a mix of local and seasonal ingredients like herbs, tinctures, spices and fruit fermentations. Berries, apples, pomelos, clementines and vinegar are a potent mix, and when topped with often very extravagant herbal bouquets are a beautiful nostalgic testament to a sip of the past.
Media: Frishman Beach, Tel Aviv
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