English freely mixed with Hebrew as nearly 250 people gathered to celebrate the Tel Aviv 100 on North Avenue Beach Wednesday.
From humble beginnings as the first modern Jewish city, Tel Aviv – which means “Hill of Spring”, a title taken from the Hebrew translation of Theodore Herzl’s “Alt Neuland” – has grown into a world-class metropolis, the hub of economic and cultural development in Israel, said Israel’s Consul General to the Midwest Orli Gil.
“Tel Aviv today is a lively city – full of booming restaurants, clubs, trends from all over the world when it comes to fashion, food and music,” she said. “Tel Aviv today is a city to celebrate; a city to go out and enjoy.”
Dan Bielski, the news editor at Kol Israel radio gave a brief tribute to the city, recognizing its special place in the hearts of Israelis.
“When I drive to Tel Aviv, I have tears in my eyes because Tel Aviv is quite an impressive place,” Bielski said. “I would not trade Tel Aviv for anything else. If you want to stay young in your heart, Tel Aviv is the place.”
Lively games of Makot – Israeli beach paddle ball – sprung up on the terrace at Castaways as Israeli music pounded and attendees crunched on falafel-flavored bisli sticks and bamba, Israeli peanut snacks.
The runaway hit of the night was the falafel eating contest, which attracted about 15 participants. Each had to put away as many garlicky falafel balls as possible in 30 seconds. The record went to David Held, whose name tag proclaimed him as “Hashem.” One arm held behind his back, David managed to munch four falafels in thirty seconds, and put away seven in the one-minute final round, in which friends fed the three remaining participants. His prize? Two tickets to comedian Howie Mandel’s appearance at JCC Live!, the annual JCC benefit.
“As an organization that brings Jewish values to life, it was really important for us to connect people to Israel, which is a big part of our tradition,” said Rachel Dreytser, who coordinates the Sidney N. Shure Kehilla, the JCC’s young adult program, and organized Tel Aviv’s birthday party.
Other event sponsors included the American Zionist Movement, Israel Aliyah Center, Israel Ministry of Tourism, Stand With Us!, Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, Birthright Israel NEXT, Honest Reporting. Shaarey Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and Pumamaki Expeditions.