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December 04, 1987 - Image 117

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-04

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Neil Beckman

are plenty of places to go to see and
be seen.
The Ben Yehudah Street Mall is
packed with sidewalk cafes and
strollers every night of the week.
Nearby Rivlin street is full of small
bars including the Evergreen Tavern
which has been a favorite nightspot
for more than a decade. On Derech
Hevron, the cinematheque cafe and
several surrounding establishments
are also renowned night haunts. As
in Tel Aviv, Thursday night is the big
night and life does not start before 10
At these night spots it is the ex-
ception rather than the rule to see
Arabs and Jews courting each other.
While Jew and Arab can and do mix
freely there is very little interaction
between them on a singles social
level. Jews the world over are reluc-
tant to assimilate while Arabs are
just as jealous of their traditions.
Furthermore, the honor of an
Arab woman is a sensitive matter and
simply being seen at a western-style
cafe or bar could compromise her
reputation. Arab men will often take
a chance with Jewish women, though
often it is for fun rather than with
marriage in mind. The few Arab-
Jewish marriages that do take place
are almost always between Arab men

and Jewish women.
Cities other than Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem are less well-endowed with
night life, but ultimately it is up to
the individual to make things
"I have a thoroughly satisfying
social life in Tiberias," says Marcia
Krantz, originally from Chicago who
now lives in the small Galilee town.
"I remember back in Chicago, where
there are so many places for singles,
friends were always complaining they
were bored and there was nothing to
do. It's all an attitude of mind."
Even the rural kibbutzim have a
significant singles scene because
most of them accept volunteers from
overseas. However, in recent years the
straight-laced kibbutznikim have
been becoming increasingly disillu-
sioned with volunteers who they feel
encourage their own children to drink
alcohol, use drugs and behave pro-
miscuously. Some kibbutzim have
even gone so far as to stop accepting
Kibbutz members, like most
Israelis, frown upon homosexuality.
Nevertheless, the gay community has
grown considerably in recent years,
especially in the Tel Aviv area. In-
evitably the emergence of AIDS has

further accentuated distrust of
homosexuals. However AIDS does not
seem to have curtailed heterosexual
activity. There have been some 40
cases of the disease in Israel of whom
only two were women (one a Haifa
prostitute and the other the wife of a
drug addict).
"I'm conscious • of AIDS," says
23-year-old Gadi Ben David, "but I
see no reason to worry about it.
Mathematically speaking, the
chances of being involved in a traffic
or domestic accident are infinitely
higher. If I were traveling in America
or Europe I'd be more concerned and
clearly it is vital to check the disease
before it spreads much more."
Also popular among Israelis im-
patient with trying to find their own
partners are marriage bureaus. Most
charge several hundred dollars and
provide several suitors. But some such
establishments charge their clients
thousands of dollars and demand
detailed references from employers,
colleges and banks, though they
guarantee a continued supply of part-
ners until a lifetime partner is found.
"People are happy to spend
thousands of dollars on the right car,"
explains Leah Tsameret of a Tel Aviv
marriage bureau," and tens of

thousands of dollars on the right
apartment. So surely it is worth spen-
ding a few thousand dollars to find
the right person to spend the rest of
your life with."
But not all Israelis are looking for
marriage. Rachel Rosenberg is a
27-year-old Jerusalem librarian. "I
enjoy my independence and having a
good time," she states bluntly.
"Maybe I'll feel differently when I'm
older but I doubt it. I have my friends
and my work and that fulfills me. I
have no desire for a husband or
children. So many women look down
on me because I don't have a family.
But they don't think ahead. They'll
reach 40 and their kids will leave for
the army and they'll have nothing left
because they built their lives around
their families. No career. No family.
Just a domineering husband."
Some Israeli women are having
children outside of marriage, but this
is rare and most single parents are
divorcees and widows. In the big cities
there are growing numbers of single
parent support groups.
But despite changing and alter-
native lifestyles, tradition still has a
firm stranglehold in Israel. Being
single is not seen as a valid lifestyle
in its own right, but as a prelude to
marriage. ❑

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