How far away Tel Aviv was! In the whole of my childhood I visited it five or six times at most: we used to go occasionally to spend festivals with the aunts, my mother's sisters. It's not just that the light in Tel Aviv was different from the light in Jerusalem, more than it is today, even the laws of gravity were different. People didn't walk in Tel Aviv: they leaped and floated, like Neil Armstrong on the moon.
In Jerusalem people always walked rather like mourners at a funeral, or latecomers at a concert. First they put down the tip of their shoe and tested the ground. Then, once they had lowered their foot, they were in no hurry to move it: we had waited two thousand years to gain a foothold in Jerusalem and were unwilling to give it up. If we picked up our foot, someone else might come along and snatch our little strip of land. On the other hand, once you have lifted your foot, do not be in a hurry to put it down again: who can tell what coil of vipers you might step on. For thousands of years we have paid with our blood for our impetuousness, time and time again we have fallen into the hands of our enemies because we put our feet down without looking where we were putting them. That, more or less, was the way people walked in Jerusalem. But Tel Aviv! The whole city was one big grasshopper. The people leaped by, and so did the houses, the streets, the squares, the sea breeze, the sand, the avenues, and even the clouds in the sky.
Once we went to Tel Aviv for Passover, and the morning after we arrived I got up early, while everyone was still asleep, got dressed, went out, and played on my own in a little square with a bench or two, a swing, a sandpit, and three or four young trees where the birds were already singing. A few months later, at New Year, we went back to Tel Aviv, and the square wasn't there anymore. It had been moved, complete with its little trees, benches, sandpit, birds, and swing, to the other end of the road. I was astonished: I couldn't understand how Ben Gurion and the duly constituted authorities could allow such a thing. How could somebody suddenly pick up a square and move it? What next -- would they move the Mount of Olives, or the Tower of David? Would they shift the Wailing Wall?
People in Jerusalem talked about Tel Aviv with envy and pride, with admiration, but almost confidentially: as though the city were some kind of crucial secret project of the Jewish people that it was best not to discuss too much -- after all, walls have ears, and spies and enemy agents could be lurking around every corner.
Telaviv. Sea. Light. Sand, scaffolding, kiosks on the avenues, a brand-new white Hebrew city, with simple lines, growing up among the citrus groves and the dunes. Not just a place that you buy a ticket for and travel to on an Egged bus, but a different continent altogether.
-- from A Tale of Love and Darkness