The LURE Guide To: How to Hookup in Tel Aviv
In Tel Aviv, people don’t let their differences stop them from taking a chance on someone they have the hots for.
BY BENJI LOVITT
What comes to mind first when you hear “Israel?"
If you’ve only seen the headlines, probably not “parties," “skin," or “debauchery." But if you’ve been lucky enough to visit Tel Aviv, you’ve discovered that Israel isn’t as simple as what’s portrayed in the news.
Israel is a country of extreme diversity – divergent backgrounds, divergent religious beliefs, from Jewish to Christian and Muslim, and a large LGBT community – all living together in a state the size of New Jersey. In cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, people don’t let the differences stop them from taking a chance on someone they have the hots for.
The cultural heartbeat of the country, and the yin to Jerusalem’s “holy city” yang, Tel Aviv is the liberal oasis of the Middle East: young, open-minded, and yes, oozing with sexuality. June’s annual Pride Parade may be the high point in tourism for internationals looking to see what the buzz is all about, but the other 51 weeks of the year are nothing to sneeze at.
“PUT THOUSANDS OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN A SMALL METROPOLIS, CRANK UP THE TEMPERATURE, AND DON’T BE SURPRISED TO SEE THE HORMONES KICKING IN.”
Even in the winter, Israelis are hot. The country’s Jewish population is a combination of Ashkenazi (descendants of European Jews) and Sephardic (North African/Middle Eastern). Love between people from all over the world, who moved to Israel as part of the Zionist movement, creates a diverse genetic mix of beauty.
Swimsuit model Bar Refaeli is a Sephardic/Ashkenazi mix of Italian, Lithuanian, and Polish roots, and Gal Gadot of “Wonder Woman” traces her origins to Poland, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Need we say more?
Not according to the mixed bag of Israelis and expats who move to Tel Aviv for its energy, youth and, of course, beach. Put thousands of young people in a small metropolis, crank up the temperature so they’re forced to wear as little clothing as possible, and don’t be surprised to see the hormones kicking in. (The hormones can even kick in abroad, as evidenced by the number of non-Jewish partners who fell in love with an Israeli on vacation and followed them back home.)
Whether it’s the shirtless men jogging on the beach, the women en route to yoga in their sports bras, or the beaches jam-packed with locals and tourists, it’s hard to walk a block in central Tel Aviv without doing a double-take.
The country’s history of conflict along with mandatory military service have created a culture of living in the moment and impulsivity. Things move fast, including sex.
Americans may spend minutes trying to craft the perfect opening line to strike up a conversation, but the stereotypical Tel Avivian needs no “excuse” to approach an object of affection. The main thoroughfare of the city, Dizengoff Street is packed with bars and restaurants busy every night of the week. Patrons spill onto the streets to drink, smoke and flirt.
In a small country with tight familial bonds, there are few social boundaries. People speak dugri (direct, blunt) and honest intentions are appreciated (often a challenge for Westerners who are afraid to offend). After three years in the army, you think an Israeli will be afraid of rejection? Life is short. How about we meet tonight?
As well as direct, Israelis are casual. Leave your fancy clothes behind. Jeans, flip-flops, and confidence are more than enough to get a phone number. No need for dinner reservations; there’s no better first date here than a drink. Keep it casual and you might just get a second date.
Just don’t wait too long to follow up on that number. If your standard operating procedure is to “call after three days," you may need to find a new hot iron to strike. Within three days, he or she may have been swept off their flip-flopped feet by a more aggressive someone (who is now planning a spontaneous and steamy weekend getaway in the desert).
Don’t be confused: “casual” and “moving at the speed of light” aren’t mutually exclusive. Living in the moment doesn’t happen without intense emotions and following your heart. (Or your libido.) And what better way to segue to possibly the most common way to meet someone in 2019…
Tinder and Grindr are very popular. Direct, honest communication is always appreciated in Israel and messaging is no exception (as long as you’re respectful, no need to beat around the bush).
Like its neighbors Italy and Greece, the Israeli city of Tel Aviv adheres to many of the Mediterranean stereotypes: high value placed on food, family and passion. A new relationship might involve all three in a matter of days!
But as they say, “easy come, easy go…” Your heart may fall from the top of Masada to the depths of Dead Sea quicker than you can say, “shalom, sexy.” But there’s no time to mourn. Your next Tel Aviv love could be right around the corner….
Benji Lovitt is a writer and comedian based in Tel Aviv. He’s been translating the Israel experience through laughter since his aliyah flight landed in 2006. Follow him on Twitter at @benjilovitt.
Israel is a tiny country packed with diverse people and polarizing beliefs. That can spark tensions, but also create incredible love stories.
In LURE’s Issue 10 “Make Love Not War,” we explore the unique ways Israeli couples of all walks of life express their love. Check out more from Issue 10 below, including our newest original film“Love In Israel.” And be sure to discover more stories of love in Israel on our Instagram.