Updated: Jul 12, 2018
New York and Los Angeles, two big cities that are meant to be good representatives of America, but are actually worlds apart. Same goes for Moscow and Saint Petersburg. A whole world of difference lies between the two iconic cities, but both represent the Russian people in their own way. And, of course, Israel, in its effort to catch up with the rest of the world's trends, have found themselves in the same boat.
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Two major Israeli cities, are so different from one another that you'd think they're miles apart - when in fact there's a meager 45-minute drive between them. Both cities manage to be so Israeli, yet so different at the same time.
To truly experience Israel you'll have to visit both cities and see the broad spectrum of culture and lifestyle that Israel has to offer. But, if we quit being "politically correct" for a moment, you can't ignore the ongoing competition the two cities have maintained over the years. Whilst we fully believe each city is unique in its own way and has a distinct personal charm and vibe - let's be real. You'll probably prefer one or the other, and that’s completely understandable.
You can love both equally of course, but we have a slight suspicion that you're just trying not to get involved in the feud. We see you, and we're not judging you (Well, maybe just a little). Although we must admit, as Citykatstories is a Jerusalem-based establishment, with most its creators being born and raised in Jerusalem, we're not so innocent ourselves.
We Israelis are so used to the endless TLV vs JLM conversation, but some of the gaps might be new to you. Here’s a list of 5 often-talked-about comparisons between the two cities. After observing just a small selection of differences, and perhaps visiting for yourself, you'll be able to determine which city fan club you'll be joining. For now, let's see how different Jerusalem and Tel Aviv really are.
1. Hats & Beards vs. Hats & Beards
Say what now? Hats and beards? how can it be an obvious way to distinguish between the two cities, you may ask yourselves. Well, seeing that Jerusalem has a very large concentration of religious Jews, it's easier to see why. In Jerusalem, you're very likely to see a person walking around with a big black top hat or a Kippah, as part of their religious ensemble. A lot of religious men are also likely to rock a long beard and “payot” (Sideburn curls). But as for Tel Aviv, it's a whole different story. With hipster fashion growing and evolving rapidly, as facial hairstyles go: the beard is in, clean-shaven is out. You'll see a lot of men supporting a hipster beard, likely paired with a man-bun or even a fedora.
2. Skyscrapers vs. Shining stars
There's a lot to be said about architecture when it comes to both cities. Tel Aviv skyscrapers showcasing the best of modern architecture and design, as well as more traditional houses in the older neighbourhoods, it's a mishmash of everything. On the other hand, Jerusalem, is home to some of the world's most ancient, and religiously valuable sites, like The Western Wall ("HaKotel") or King David's Tower ("Migdal David"). The difference is evident. Tel Aviv being more daring, expanding and trying new things, utilizing the flat shoreline, as opposed to Jerusalem's mountainous terrain, where people still live in houses built before the country was established. Looking at the cities at night, you’ll see Tel Aviv lit up from head to toe with lights emitted from the skyscraper's windows, whereas in Jerusalem, it feels a lot darker, stars being a primary light source.
3. Babies vs. Dogs
Walking around Jerusalem, mostly next to religious neighbourhoods, you’re very likely to see 7 or 8 kids walking around together. No, they did not just step off the school bus and are on their way home, they all actually belong to the same family. It's very common among religious families to have a lot of kids. That way the older siblings can help take care of the younger ones when things get out of hand. Tel Avivians, as brutal as it may sound, prefer dogs over kids (Sometimes). Tel Aviv could be considered Israel's dog capital. It's almost like an unwritten rule in the "Living in Tel Aviv starter guide". It's mandatory to own a pup and take it absolutely everywhere with you, giving it the same spoiling treatment a human baby would get.
4. Gefilte fish vs. Sushi
Jerusalem is considered a very religious place, and therefore, follows some strict traditional rules. For example: eating kosher. For tourists, it may be very strange at first to hear that people don't eat meat and dairy together, or that most seafood is off limits, and how could you live without bacon?! But despite the restrictions, Jerusalem manages to be a culinary hotspot of its own kind, creating delicious, authentic, traditional food from all religions and cultures. You can ask the locals who don't follow kosher dining rules: you won't miss the bacon in Jerusalem. Tel Aviv is a whole different story. Restrictions go out the window in this city. Culinary advancements are revolutionized daily and experimentation with food is celebrated. Tel Aviv is a foodie’s dream, attracting top chefs from all over the country (And world). From juicy cuts of steak to gourmet vegan cuisine, From 5-star restaurants to market stalls, it's impossible to get bored.
5. Beach city vs. Stone city
Tel Aviv has a shoreline that expands along the whole city, where the sky meets the sea, merging into a beautiful blue hue. During the Tel Aviv summer, which usually extends well into fall, you'll see lots of tattooed individuals, usually rocking the uniform attire of flip flops (Which are considered footwear in Israel), short shorts and more often than not topless, whether that be a bikini or bearing it all. In Jerusalem summer, people like to keep things more covered, taking the modest approach. A typical choice of footwear would either be traditional leather sandals (Tanachi) or trekking Teva-style sandals (Shoresh). Jerusalem got the name “Stone city” for a reason. There's a distinct stone that covers all buildings, according to a law that passed in 1918 when the British ruled. A stroll around the old city is a good summer activity. Keep in mind you're more likely to see someone covered in a Tallit rather than a beach towel.