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This morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast together and set-out to learn more about Tel Aviv, Israel’s “start-up city” and what it has to offer.  We’re enjoying getting to know eachother better and begging to understand the meaning and importance of Israel
Journalist – Ben Sales

Our first meeting was wtih Ben Sales, a Washington University graduate and correspondent  with JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency).  After an awkward moment before we realized Ben was from Chicago (oops, Mindee), we enjoyed a spirited discussion with Ben who walked us through the dynamics and challenges of matters in Israel. Ben has a first-hand perspective on some of the most controversial matters facing the State of Israel and walked us through the dynamics playing out before us.  

We understand it’s complicated.  However, we all felt that it’s a completely different experience when you’re sitting in Tel Aviv discussing the news of the day.  You can read about what’s going on in Israel; but, hearing the story while you’re hear is just differnt.  Dovev, our guide, was particularly moved by this presentation.  Everyone noticed.  The Israeli’s also recognize the imporant of experiencing Israel.  

Ben offered a very interesting perspective.  He said that Israeli’s are very engaged – espectially when challenged.  He recognized that sensitivities are very high with regard to the Temple Mount.  He said that rocks and munitions were found at the Temple Mount.  Many are not aware of this.  

Ben walked us through some of the dynamics influencing the state of affairs in Israel.  For many of us, this simple explanation provided more context for what we hear in the media than anything else wer have experienced.  It was simple and eloquent.  And effective.  One of Ben’s messages came in response to the questions regarding some of the more controversial positions of the Israeli government.  He asked – do we all agree with everything our governmetn does?   Of course no, we said.  Well, neither do Israeli’s.  Most agree that the government is not perfect; but, is well intentioned.

Ben left us with a mesage that resonated with all of us.  “Talk to people about what’s going on, educate.”  We love this theme.  Every day someone we meet with reminds us to do this.  Until you vist, these words have less meaning.   

Start-up Tour Guide

This was really interesting.  A number of us work in the burgeoning innovation community in St. Louis.  So, learning about some of the innovative initiatives in Tel Aviv to help advance the development of early-stage inititiaves was right in our wheelhouse.  Tel Aviv has a state-of-the art start-up ecosystem that is devloping the next generation of technologies and companes.  We met with a fascinating early-stage Israeli company who took a real grilling from our team.  They stood-up to scrutinty and both of us learned from the experinece.

Lunch

We had lunch at the Carmel Shuk open marketing.  And did some shopping at the Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall and art fair.  GREATEST FALAFEL EVER.  GREATEST HALVAH EVER.  GREATEST JUDAICA KITCH EVER.  Hard to describe to folks who haven’t been there before.  We’ll bring as much back as we can carry (gifts, not falafel).

Street Art / Graffiti Walking – Shirel Howovitz

Tel Aviv has artists!  A lot of them.  Some of this work is represented throughout the city in the form of grafitti.  We learned that some of this art tells us that art should be placed in the world to be removed.  As our guide suggested, this art tells us a story that demands to be seen.  Israeli’s live in a world of perpetual conflict and complex issues.   Some of the images were vibrant, profound and impactful.  Hard described; but, many pictures were taken.

Scott Yusman – US Embassy   

We can neither confirm nor deny the meeting at the U.S. Embassy today with a very important government attache.  But, it was really interesting to learn a little bit about the U.S. Embassy in Israel.  We’d tell you more, but…

Dinner

LaLa Land on the Beach.  Tonight, we were the dining equivelant of our loud Segway trip through Jaffa.  We ate more local food – fresh fish from the Mediteranian, more HOOOOMUS (thanks for the proper pronunciation, Dovev), and mint tea.  And Israeli wine.  We dined on the beach (literally, in the sand) and enjoyed each others company and getting to know eachother even better.

A Few General Observations

Apparently, according to our guide Dovev, much of Israel is edible.  Who knew?  For example, have you eaten Maluach lately?  Apparently, it’s something Israeli’s eat regularly and grows everywhere.  When in Israel, do as the Israeli’s do, I suppose.  It was delicious.  We’ll be looking for more Maluach to eat!

We joke about the photoshoot experience.  At times, it seems like every moment is an occasion for a group photo.  But, maybe our teenage kids are onto someting.  We’ve noticed that our friends and family are looking for updates and want to share in our Israel experience in some way.  And, we’re learning through social media that we have so many Jewish more connections with each other that we ever knew.  Not only does that help us feel closer to home; but, it helps us feel closer to each other.

Thanks, Rubins, for sponsoring this incredible trip.  A toast to both of you from Tel Aviv!