By Taly Matiteyahu
During a recent family dinner, my uncle said, “Tel Aviv is the city that never sleeps.” Having spent the last four years in Manhattan, I couldn’t help but object. “New York is the city that never sleeps.” He scoffed, saying there was no other city in the world like Tel Aviv. My love for New York aside, my uncle had a point.
While New York may never shut down, with stores that stay open 24-7, a lively nightlife scene in various neighborhoods, and a public transportation system that always runs, the city does sleep. The Financial District, which is overwhelmingly bustling during the daytime, becomes eerily calm and quiet after business hours. The Upper East Side bar scene is tame on weekday evenings. When there is bad weather, people quickly opt to stay in rather than go out. While New York may be called the city that never sleeps, New Yorkers certainly do.
I think part of the difference between New York and Tel Aviv is weather-induced. The climate in Tel Aviv is such that people want to (and can) enjoy spending time outside. While it can get quite hot during the day in the summer months, the weather in Tel Aviv is pretty wonderful. Plans to go out are practically never hindered by rainstorms or snow. Taking a walk or run on the tayelet (the boardwalk along the beach that runs from Yafo to Hatzok Beach) during the sunset, feeling the cool breeze against your skin, hearing nearby street musicians—it’s addictive in a way strolls along the Hudson River never were.
Tel Aviv is not just awake 24-7, but it’s also alive. People go out every night of the week, whether to Tel Aviv restaurants, bars, cafes, or the beach. That’s not to say New Yorkers don’t go out—they most certainly do. But Tel Aviv has something New York doesn’t… and I’m still trying to pinpoint exactly what the distinction is.
In the two weeks since I’ve arrived in Israel, I know I’ve only started to experience the Israeli lifestyle. While I am Israeli (I was raised in America by Israeli emigrants) I’ve never visited Israel for more than a month at a time. So far, I’m thrilled with life in Tel Aviv, despite constantly wishing I were better oriented with the city structure and geography as I was in New York. I know such knowledge and familiarity comes with time. I’m looking forward to getting to know Tel Aviv better, even if it means continuously debunking the notion that my beloved New York is not the city that never sleeps, but only a city that never sleeps.