topics: bagel (food), military history, military service, bicycle advocacy, Diaspora; jump to dispatch

BikeAbout Log


Rider Notes: January 18, 1998

Food of the Day: Bagels

Everyone knows bagels. And, well, there are bagels available all over Tel Aviv. Ethan, a native New Yorker (self-proclaimed bagel capital of the U.S.A.!) and full-fledged fan of bagels, was pleased to be able to indulge in this delicious food for all occasions.

Tech Fact of the Day: Mandatory Military Service

In Israel, starting in their 18th year, all young people must report for duty in the armed services — three years (!) of service for men, two years (!) for women. There is no choice in the matter; everyone does it. (We did however meet some people who succeeded in pursuing ways of avoiding it — like getting certified as being mentally unfit for duty — but these people are rare.)

Most young people actually start preparing for their time in the army a few years before it happens. They hope to get a job in a special unit that is in their field of interest, or perhaps an assignment that does not involve duty on an active front line (like the Lebanese border) or in a zone that could see violence (like in the West Bank or Gaza). To accomplish this almost always involves getting good grades in a particular school subject. But there are other ways that require a significant time investment. For example, many young people devote an extra year or two after high school (thus postponing their army service) to advanced study in a special field; however, these people are often required to spend an extra year or two in the army in return.

Person of the Day: Friends from the Tel Aviv Bikers Association

They're a small group of urban transportation radicals. Through the thick of night, undeterred by mud and rain, and driven by a quality-of-life consciousness that makes everything they strive for worthwhile, they pedal ever forward for a cause that most people don't understand. BikeAbout does.

They are our excellent friends from the Tel Aviv Bikers Association: Segit, Micky, Marcos, Charles, and the others with whom we briefly crossed paths. They aren't really that radical. Nor do they sneak around in the thick of night. But they do have an awareness of urban quality-of-life standards that we share. And they do have the drive and skill to make a difference.

The Tel Aviv Bikers Association is a group of friends brought together by a love of bicycles and desire to make Tel Aviv a safer and happier place. They are students, photographers, urban planners, urban engineers, and others united and effective in their ability to bring about results. Their latest project — to bring bike lanes to the city of Tel Aviv — is meeting with a great deal of success. Look for the results in the coming year. And join them for any of the cycling events that they help to organize and which may help them and everyone to enjoy a better life in Tel Aviv.

Also, please join us in thanking them for having helped make BikeAbout's time in Tel Aviv one of great joy. We saw people and places, got a perspective on daily life, and felt secure in a way that would otherwise never have been possible. Segit, Micky, Marcos, Charles and the rest, you are the best!

For more information about the Tel Aviv Bikers Association and/or to get on their mailing list, write to Marcos Szeinuk at

Place of the Day: Beth Hatefutsoth (Museum of the Jewish Diaspora)

To the north of Tel Aviv, perched on the top of a hill belonging to the Tel Aviv University campus, hidden behind a gate and two sets of security check points, the Beth Hatefutsoth, or Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, is a dazzling achievement in museumology that teaches an important lesson about the Jewish community spread throughout the world. Today, Jews speak of this dispersion as the Diaspora and take great pride in having survived as a community pushed to the four corners of the earth.

Documentation from the museum says the following:

"The museum tells the story of the Jewish people beginning with their expulsion from the Land of Israel 2,500 years ago to the present. History, traditions and heritage of Jewish life in all parts of the world are brought to life in murals, reconstructions, dioramas, audio-visual displays, documentary films and interactive multi-media presentations."

It really is an outstanding accomplishment. Through three floors and six thematic sections — including Family, Community, Faith, Among the Nations, and Return to Zion — people are brought into the spirit of Judaism and, through simple but evocative and engaging exhibits, helped to understand how communities through the ages labored to hold onto their traditions no matter where they were in the world or how they were treated. From the time of the ancient Land of Israel to the modern-day State of Israel, oral tradition and law has somehow, more or less, continued to unify the Jews in the Diaspora.

Beth Hatefutsoth is also the home of the:

For more information about Beth Hatefutsoth, the Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, they can be contacted directly at:

P.O. Box 39359
Tel Aviv 61392
Tel: +972.3.640.8000
Fax: +972.3.640.5727

Group Dispatch, January 18

picture of Ethan

This was a long day. A very long day. So long that not all of us could do everything. Which was a good lesson to learn. We have all been so eager to do everything that choosing one thing over another has rarely happened. We have wandered through almost every meeting and site visit as a group of five. Well, today we saw that this isn't always possible.

The day began with a morning under the lights of celebrity . . . or so we hope. At 8:30 a.m., we all reported to one of the many beautiful Tel Aviv beaches, Jerusalem Beach, to pose before the camera of Charles Frankenburg (one of our friends from Tel Aviv Bikers Association, see the People of the Day). Charles had agreed to help us complete a roll of slide film that we want to use for publicity in large circulation magazines. We fired off copies of us standing, with our trusty Wheeler bikes, before the Mediterranean Sea. We'll see what happens.

From the beach we skeedaddled to Rabin Square where yet another photographer working for Ha-aretz, an important Israeli daily newspaper, took a picture that we hope will be attached to an article written about us. We'll see what happens with that too.

And then the group split.

While andrEa followed Charles on a series of errands, Ethan took off northward to visit Beth Hatefutsoth (the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora) (see the Place of the Day), and Corinne and Anthony went to meet with some contacts at the ORT school headquarters in Tel Aviv. The ORT schools in Israel (of which there are quite a few) focus on the sciences and advanced technologies, preparing students for the upcoming era in which computers will be more integrated into everyday life. One of the people we met there, Mr. Gideon Goldstein, Director of Foreign Relations, jumped on the phone and set up a series of five school visits for the coming days when we are in the Haifa area. We look forward to them and an opportunity to talk with Israeli teachers and students.

In the afternoon, Ethan and Corinne met at the "Haganah" Museum, known in Hebrew as Beit Eliyahu, in downtown Tel Aviv. (andrEa was still running errands and Anthony had returned to his host home to work on his dispatch.) Another "environmental" installation, like Beth Hatefutsoth, although carried to a remarkable extreme, the museum tells the story of the Israeli defense movements of the early 20th century that were instrumental in establishing the State of Israel. The history of Israel from the turn of the century through the declaration of independence is a rocky and violent one. The Haganah Museum is dedicated to memorializing the people and movements that were active at this time.

It is hard not to be affected by the displays. And not always in a positive way. We could not help feeling that one of the ultimate results was a glorification of armed conflict. In fact, while we were there, we saw a large group of young soldiers (see the Tech Fact of the Day) on a detailed guided tour. Apparently, this museum is managed by the Museum Unit of the Ministry of Defense and used as a tool in educating Israeli youth about the history of the founding of their country. Unfortunately, the founders' struggles relied heavily on destructive covert operations. Nevertheless, it is a period of Israeli history that should not be forgotten.

The museum begins with the Settlement and Defense Movement of the start of the 20th century. Organizations like "Bar Giora," "Hashomer," and the "Second Aliya" pioneers were established as Jewish fighting forces that could take over the defense and settlement responsibilities left untended after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and the British withdrawal after World War II. As described in the literature, "The display is accompanied by an audio-visual show. A transparent display of the riots in 1920/21, with audio-visual effects, helps the visitor to feel and understand the difficult situation in the country at the time the "Haganah" organization was founded (June 1920)." Believe us, the full multi-media onslaught is terribly effective.

The remaining exhibits concentrate on the twenties and thirties, the "years of organization and establishment: industry, procurement of arms, preparations of the Jewish population for defense and expansion of the settlements, changing from passive defense to active defense, while continuing the clandestine military organization and the beginning of clandestine immigration." Jewish volunteer participation in both World Wars is also highlighted.

The final thematic area is devoted to the "Flight from Europe and the struggle for free immigration." The "Haganah" led the fight throughout the years of rebellion. Its palmach (striking companies) remained active up until the creation of the Israeli Defense Forces on May 31, 1948. This was especially crucial when, after the Israeli declaration of independence on November 29, 1947, the British maintained a blockade against immigration by Jews fleeing Europe and hoping to come to the new State of Israel. Ironically, the very same forces that liberated Jews from the camps of Europe worked to prohibit them from reaching the shores of Israel.

Proof of the "Haganah" and IDF successes, especially after the British blockade finally ended, is revealed in statistics recorded from an exhibit in Beth Hatefutsoth. Immigrants to Israel between 1919 and 1948 numbered 482,857. The period between 1948 and 1992 saw 2,286,676 new arrivals. This latter figure is inflated by the million or so Russians who immigrated to Israel between approximately 1990 and 1992, but it does show how many Jews have sought solace in the new State of Israel.

For more information about the "Haganah Museum," please contact the

Ministry of Defense, Museum Unit
Beit Eliyahu
23 Sderot Rothschild
Tel Aviv
Tel: +972-3-560.8624

With their heads on the verge of information overload, Corinne and Ethan hopped on their bikes to rejoin Anthony and andrEa in a meeting with Ms. Zohara Ron, Editor of Masa Acher, the Israeli Geographical Magazine. In an enjoyable discussion, we agreed to try to write a short article about Lebanon and Syria for her, since both countries are essentially off-limits to Israelis and many Israelis are intensely curious about them.

When we stepped out of Ms. Ron's office, we suddenly realized that our day had been so busy, none of us had eaten anything substantial. So, with a good recommendation from Ms. Ron, we streaked through the dark streets of Tel Aviv to a pleasant little Yemenite restaurant and enjoyed a meal and our first chance to talk as a group since reassembling on January 12!

But the day wasn't over yet! At 7 p.m., we reported to the offices of one of the Tel Aviv Bikers Association members and presented BikeAbout to other members of the association. Later we all went out for one last night on the town. It was a late night for Anthony and Ethan who saw it all the way through. But it was also a very pleasant way to say goodbye and thank you to our good friends (and some of their friends) for all that they have helped us to accomplish while in Tel Aviv.

Go to Previous Rider Notes PageGo to Next Rider Notes Page

Questions? Ask Ethan Go To Ethan's Page!

Return to Fast Facts

BikeAbout Itinerary & Journal Discussion Groups About Israel eDscape Projects BikeAbout Scrapbook
Discussions About

About BikeAbout Mediterranean Journey BikeAbout Partners Resource Library

AquanetInternet access and Web hosting while in Israel were provided by Aquanet.

Daedalus Design Group Computer Curriculum Corporation Compaq

Copyright 1997-2004 BikeAbout. All rights reserved.