Daily Israel Report

Tel Aviv's Religious Face

Contrary to popular belief, residents of Tel Aviv respect religion, and many are asking for more synagogues and mikvas, a city official says.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/15/2011, 10:25 AM / Last Update: 4/15/2011, 11:51 AM

Flash 90

Contrary to popular belief, residents of Tel Aviv are not only not anti-religious, but in many cases are seeking more chances to observe Jewish tradition, according to Eldad Mizrachi, head of the local Religious Authority. Mizrachi spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service about the “two faces” of the city.

“Today there is a tremendous demand for Judaism, particularly in the new neighborhoods, in Ramat Aviv,” he said. “Residents come to aski for synagogues. They turn to us all the time with various requests It turns out there is a very high awareness of tradition.”

The image of Tel Aviv as a city with no ties to Jewish tradition is in part a result of media coverage, he continued. Relatively few stores sell leavened bread (chametz) on Passover in a public manner, he said, but those few that do are photographed for the pages of the newspaper.

When people see the pictures, “They think that all of Tel Aviv is like that. But it really isn't, not at all,” Mizrachi explained. While most restaurants are not kosher for Passover, most show respect for the holiday by keeping their leavened products off display, he said.

The Religious Authority is preparing for Passover with public seders, stations to make dishes kosher for the holiday and to burn leavened bread products, and the distribution of food aid. Even so, the public continues to request more, he said, and officials have received requests for dozens of more stations for burning chametz.

The requests are pouring in, even from people who live a secular lifestyle, he said. Secular residents of one new neighborhood recently requested a mikva [ritual bath].