Continuing with my trip the other week to Israel’s coastal metropolis, Tel Aviv, I started my morning off bright and early. I made it to the exams building and did what needed to be done. On the way back to my host’s place, I stopped off at the Krinizi House, a museum on the history of Ramat Gan (a city in the Tel Aviv district).
Located in the old house of Avraham Krinizi, the first mayor of Ramat Gan, the museum retells the city’s rise from a small satellite town to a booming commercial city. After returning and subsequently saying goodbye to my host I took a bus back into Tel Aviv, getting off on King George street at Metzudat Ze’ev, a large Brutalist-style building also known as Jabotinsky House.
My first visit was to the Etzel Museum where I learned more about the paramilitary organisation’s activities over the years leading up to Israeli independence. One thing that really impressed me were the many detailed models that portrayed in miniature scale how and where the group’s violent activities took place – like the attack on the British headquarters in the King David Hotel in 1946.
After browsing through the two floors of Etzel exhibits and having watched the video, I purchased a cheap book about “the Irgun” (another name for Etzel) and headed upstairs to visit the Jabotinsky Centre.
There I was treated to a rather interesting video about the life of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, told over by actors playing Ze’ev and his son, Eri. When I was done looking around l discovered the centre’s archives with an extraordinary amount of filed documents, photographs and more.
Leaving the fancy building I boarded a bus heading for the even fancier Rothschild Boulevard and Independence Hall. My bus dropped me off a few blocks south of Rothschild and so I found myself walking through the streets, with the alternate Bauhaus and modern buildings of steel and glass casting their shadows over me.
I then encountered the Herzlilienblum Museum of banking history on the corner of Herzl and Lilienblum, but unfortunately the museum is only open to groups with an advance reservation. With the guard not yielding to my cajoling, I turned the corner and found Independence Hall, originally known as Dizengoff House. After paying the rather steep entrance fee I watched a short film about the house and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which, when aired on public broadcast to the world, sparked the War for Independence.
I thought the restored room which hosted the monumental moment was rather nice but that they should lower the cost of visiting – after all, it is a national heritage site and the museum is basically just that room. I walked around the area a bit, sight-seeing, and then headed to a restaurant I had passed a few blocks away for late lunch. After having their burger, which was considerably less interesting than the other more ethic choices in the area, I headed for Allenby street. Somewhat notorious for being rather seedy, at least by Israeli standards, Allenby does have one redeeming site – the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv. Built in the 1920’s and renovated in the 1970’s, the Great Synagogue is a rather impressive building with its large arches and stained glass windows.
When it was built, the synagogue was in the centre of old Tel Aviv, but now the surrounding areas have become commercial and the building has lost some of its practical importance. I found the great doors unlocked and was overjoyed to finally step inside for the first time in many unsuccessful visits. I had chanced upon preparations for an important event – the Great Synagogue was celebrating 90 years and, in honour, four new sifrei torah (torah scrolls) were being dedicated. Unfortunately, the event was late in the evening and it would be problematic coinciding with the public transportation I was using to get back home. And so I took my pictures, prayed mincha (evening prayer) and bid the grand synagogue farewell. Continuing down Allenby I popped into the Carmel Shuk in search for the Beer Bazaar, a craft beer place with a great stock.
The man behind the counter was pleasantly knowledgeable and helped me pick out six new stouts and porters to try, all Israeli made. After having tasted them all and enjoying them to various degrees, I still prefer my favourite beer, Salara Smoked Stout from Kibbutz Ginegar (which I had the opportunity of visiting the following week). With the beers safely wrapped up I took a bus to the train and the train back to the north, wrapping up my two-day trip to Tel Aviv. But I was to visit again shortly after…