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Tel Aviv is a remarkable city, one defined – like Israel itself – by its many contradictions. Labelled ‘a state within a state’ due to its unique atmosphere, it is religiously secular and the inhabitants are as diverse and colourful as the bustling shuks. Individuality and differences are not just tolerated, but welcomed and encouraged. These photos give a glimpse into everyday life in this great city, capturing its essence where words often fail.
Perhaps the sharpest of Tel Aviv’s contradictions is that between religion and modernity, the old and the new. This graffiti-covered synagogue in Florentin is a vivid embodiment of this coexistence.
The smell of cannabis permeates the humid air of Tel Aviv. Whether you’re sitting in a bar, a park, or the beach, you will not be far from someone smoking a joint! Its use is so widespread that the government recently decriminalised recreational use of the plant.
Despite its vigorous pursuit of modernity, sights like this are not uncommon in Tel Aviv!
It’s a tolerant and diverse city, where different religions exist alongside each other.
This amazing video clip shows an Israeli man navigating the roads on a hoverboard while dressed as Aladdin, for the Jewish celebration of Purim. It’s difficult to imagine a scene like this anywhere else in the world!
Tel Aviv is incredibly progressive in many ways, and is home to a strong feminist movement. This provocative art display, made entirely out of call girl cards that litter the city’s streets, is aimed to highlight the issue of prostitution in the city.
This old man encapsulates the laid back vibe of Tel Aviv.
The amusing sight of this Orthodox Jewish man rollerblading around trying to advertise his belief in the Messiah is fairly common. In an overwhelmingly secular city, it’s doubtful that he’s had much success!
The Na Nachs are one of the most unique religious movements in Israel, with a strong presence in south Tel Aviv. They are an Ultra Orthodox Jewish sect who follow the legacy of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Their motto, simply put, is to live life with utmost happiness in order to connect with God. They see it as a mitzvah, or duty, to spread this happiness to others. Throughout the country, they drive around in their graffiti-ridden vans, pumping out techno music and wildly dancing around at red lights. Often, non-religious passersby join in the fun. Seeing them do their thing, especially for the first time, is truly a sight to behold!
A carefree woman relaxes with an ice cream on a seemingly discarded sofa on a Tel Aviv street. Because, why not?
Here, the sight of a homeless man sleeping on a bench starkly contrasts with the three women next to him, and the beautiful house behind him. Like all cities, Tel Aviv is home to both wealth and poverty.
This marvellous shot shows a religious Jewish woman passing a provocative mural of a male body, with her eyes seemingly fixed on the floor.
On Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the roads of Israel are empty and many people head to synagogue. In the typical why not? spirit of Tel Aviv, this man decided to make the most of the car-free roads. In his underwear.
Tel Aviv’s streets are littered with charming outdoor coffee kiosks such as this. They reflect the outdoor culture that characterises the city, the relaxed nature its locals, and their love for coffee.
A tattooed man with a blue mohawk waits at a traffic light next to an Arab woman in a headscarf, embodying the tolerance and diversity of Tel Aviv.
A hipster in a vest applies tefillin, a religious practice in Judaism whereby one wraps leather around the arm in addition to boxes containing verses from the Torah, while reciting a blessing.
Tel Aviv is an epicurean city, where romance is pursued with fervour. Here, two teenagers, pita bread in hand, exchange a kiss.
The contrast between religion and secularism is a recurring theme in Tel Aviv, and is demonstrated magnificently in this photo.
The beach and the sea play a significant role in life in this city; they are places to relax, a sanctuary to escape the noise and chaos of daily life.
This photo shows two things that are everywhere in Tel Aviv: dogs and bikes.
If Tel Aviv could be described in one photo, then perhaps this is it.