Conversations With Naomi: Paz in Tel Aviv

I stayed at the fabulous Brown Boutique Hotel at Kalisher 25 in Tel Aviv  on my recent vacation to Israel. When I arrived at the Brown, I was somewhat ferklempt. I had driven from Walnut Creek, California at 4:15 AM to San Francisco International Airport, and then flown from there to New York City. I then grabbed a flight on El Al to Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, and after the plane landed, I dashed for a taxi to Tel Aviv. I was greeted by the Brown's friendly, efficient and, savvy staff and promptly offered ice cold chilled Cava champagne, which really hit the spot.

There's a roof top deck bar with amazing views of Tel Aviv, which I discovered on my second night. And it was up on the roof where I met Paz, a bartender who agreed to do a short interview for this column.

Paz from Tel Aviv
I had ordered a Lemon Drop and Paz deftly took out his iphone and looked up the recipe. Of course I could tell that Paz had more intrigue and depth than just his talent for mixology. I began the interview by probing into his family history. And this is how it went:
Naomi: I am interested in knowing some of your family background, if you don't mind.

Paz: I had one grandmother who was a Holocaust Survivor from Poland. She lost her entire huge family and then emigrated to Israel. After that, she decided she would not be religious. My other grandparents came from Iraq. They brought my father here to Israel in 1951.

Naomi: I can see that you are an excellent bartender, but do you have any dreams for the future?

Paz: Yes, I am actually working on my visa to come the the United States where I hope to start a fashion design business. Besides that, I am also in the process of taking what's in my brain, all of my ideas for the designs, to paper.

Naomi: That sounds fantastic! What type of clothing do you want to design and produce? What is your concept?

Paz: It is 'Street design,' Israeli style.

Naomi:  I wish you the best Paz, and please, always remember to follow your dreams!

(example of Israeli Street Fashion)

food for thought: in Tel Aviv

My first Israeli breakfast, compliments of the Brown Boutique Hotel, in Tel Aviv, was at Tazza D’Oro in Neve Tzedeck. While I was waiting for my meal, the couple sitting at the table next to me struck up a conversation. If I had any nerves coming to Israel for my first time, they had disappeared. Everyone is friendly, kind, and helpful.

This young man was originally from California, and his shockingly beautiful girlfriend, a born Israeli. They had met several years ago on a kibbutz. He told me it took him several years to convince her that he was the right man for her. I asked the guy: “How long have you spoken Hebrew?”  He replied, “It is still very hard for me.”  I asked, “Did you go to Hebrew school as a child?’ He said, “No, I never went.” I told them that I had gone, and that I can read Hebrew, better with vowels. And I said that I wonder why they hadn't taught us conversational Hebrew, in addition to learning how to read the prayers. 

And what this native Californian turned Israeli said to me, was as poignant as anything that I have heard or read from the American political talking heads on the subject of Diaspora Jews vs Israeli Jews. He said this:

“That would have been the best if they had taught conversational Hebrew to Jewish Americans starting with the children in Hebrew school. There would be so much more communication and not such a divide. In my opinion, this is the main divide between Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews. We would be as one. We could be as one.”