The Best Pitas in Tel Aviv

Something Year Coursers can all agree on: Tel Aviv has some amazing options for cheap and tasty food, whether at noon, midnight, or anywhere in between. Here are six of Tel Aviv’s best meals in a pita, perfect for vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, and anyone who wants a taste of the city’s world-renowned cuisinse without hurting their wallets too hard.

Connecting with Women of the Wall

by Jereme Weiner, Year Course 19-20

As a lifelong Judaean – six summers at Camp Judaea, Hadracha at Camp Tel Yehudah, and participating in Machon in Israel last summer – I feel like I have spent years preparing to having a truly meaningful Year Course experience, ready to connect what I learned at camp with life in Israel.

During my Hadracha summer at Tel Yehudah in 2017, we discussed all kinds of topics during our weekly Shabbat Israel Update. One week, I was frustrated to learn during a talk on gender issues at the Western Wall that women had significantly less rights to prayer at the Kotel and were not able to read from the Torah, among other restrictions. What could I do to get involved? How could I make my voice heard, too?

Last week, on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan (the first day of the new month), I joined seven other Year Coursers and our madricha, Sarah, for monthly prayers at the Kotel with Women of the Wall (WoW), a group whose mission is to “attain social and legal recognition of the right of  women to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah, collectively and aloud, at the Western Wall.” We joined the group at 7am, ready to show our support, and were amazed by the amount of people who had come to protest both for and against women’s rights at the Kotel. While WoW tried for more than half an hour to bring three small Torahs into the Western Wall plaza, security guards pushed us back and didn’t allow us in, while a crowd had gathered telling us to shut up and go home. It was a disheartening and frustrating experience to feel like my Judaism wasn’t being respected, and that fellow Jews were aggressively pushing us away from praying at the holiest site in Judaism.

After leaving, I thought back to that Israel Update during Hadracha – it felt like my Young Judaea experience had drawn a straight line from education to experience, not only exposing me to important topics in Jewish life and Israel while at camp, but bringing them to life while I live in Israel for the year. On Year Course, my views on Judaism and Zionism are constantly tested, questioned, and evolving. Seeing the issues we discussed at camp first-hand has been an experience I am so thankful for, and I can’t wait to see where my Year Course journey takes me.

Year Course Recommends: Cafe Casbah

Cafe Casbah is a cool little spot in Tel Aviv’s hip Florentine neighborhood, offering a nice and relaxed atmosphere.

Catering to a young and hip (and working on their laptops) crowd, Cafe Casbah’s vibe is best described as “90s counterculture,” with an indoor and outdoor space decorated with plants and a tons of stickers—everything from local bands to Jewish prayers to random websites.

With the Beatles and Rolling Stones playing overhead, we checked out the extensive and vegetarian-friendly menu: tofu stir-fry, veggie burgers, red and green shakshuka, salads, quiche, and more. We all ended up ordering a special deal for croissant or bagels with coffee, and were thoroughly impressed! The coffee was strong but not bitter, the bagels pretty impressive by Israeli standards.

Overall, we would strongly recommend the cafe. It was really nice to explore a different neighborhood through food, and it was definitely worth the fairly lengthy bus ride. We would rate this place an 8/10.

Cafe Casbah is located at 3 Florentine Street, Tel Aviv

Getting to Know: Rabbi Adam Drucker, Director of Experiential Education

Hello! My name is Rabbi Adam Drucker and I am the Director of Experiential Education for Young Judaea Year Course.

In a nutshell, my role involves curating experiences that enable our students to gain a deep understanding of themselves, their people, its history, culture and country, using the wonderfully diverse educational canvas that is Israel. Ever since joining the Year Course team and extended Young Judaea family two years ago, I have been blown away by the passion, professionalism and dedication of my colleagues and find myself waking up each morning with an unbounded drive to give my all to our incredible students.

My personal Israel story started while I was growing up in the UK and was fortunate enough to join my father on school Israel tours. I was instantly mesmerized by the place and have not stopped trying to engaging with the paradoxes the Zionist dream. After spending many years working for different educational institutions in England, I made Aliyah with my gorgeous family 4 years ago and we are now a part of an exciting new community in the southern city of Kiryat Gat.

I have dedicated my life to pluralist Jewish and Zionist education and still cannot believe how fortunate I am to have my dream job working for Young Judaea Year Course. Over my relatively short time as the Year Course Rabbi I have been so lucky to have met some of the most inspirational, energetic and authentic young people and have found something magical about actualizing meaningful moments for each of these students during their Year Course journey. I treasure Kabbalat Shabbat with the sun is setting over the Mediterranean to the journeys through the delicious strawberry fields of Gadera to the seemingly innocuous but life changing conversations that take place in my humble office in Beit Arel and everything in between.

Every student I have had the honor of guiding and teaching has moved me with their humility to open themselves up to new ideas and challenges. I find myself coming back to a famous Talmudic statement when trying to understand what Year Course means to me, “I have learnt a lot from my teachers, more from my peers but most from my students” – Ta’anit 7a . My hope is that students who participate in YC strive for authenticity in everything they do and continue to inspire all those around them (especially me!)

Year Course Recommends: Cafe Xoho

Tucked away on Gordon Street, between the bustling thoroughfares of Dizengoff and Ben Yehuda, the always-packed Cafe Xoho offers patrons a funky and delicious blend of American-Israeli food with a relaxed and brunch-y vibe.

As North Americans transplanted to Israel, we’ve been on the hunt for good bagels and Cafe Xoho did not disappoint! We also tried a great burrito (who could imagine a great burrito in Tel Aviv?) and the chips and guacamole tasted as good as at home. We didn’t get a chance to try the amazing-looking pancakes and baked goods, but there’s an extensive and creative drink menu and we can report that having the option to add haloumi cheese to just about any dish is definitely worth the extra splurge.

With a fair amount of seating inside and out, solid service and decent prices, we’ll be happy to make Cafe Xoho one of our top spots while living in Tel Aviv!

Cafe Xoho is located at Gordon Street 17 in Tel Aviv, easy walking distance from lots of buses on Ben Yehuda and Dizengoff and nice and close to the beach!