Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bustling Ashkelon

One of my favorite cities in Israel is Ashkelon. I love the sea. I love the Miami Beach, Florida, feeling (the buildings are beige and white stucco; there are orange and kumquat trees in the yards). And I love the sun on a cold winter's day.
Of course, while we were there it was cold, rainy and perfect for my neighborhood, but it didn't seem to "go" with Ashkelon. The ocean was grey and forbidding. The waves were totally out of control. And of course, there were teenage surfers in wet suits, who didn't care that folks were shivering just watching them.
We walked past the marina, and the boats were absolutely jumping off the water - having a tug of war with the thick ropes that held them to the docks. They seemed excited to see us walk by, and they greeted us with a little splash. But we made a quick getaway when we saw the first bolt of lightning over the ocean.
Two more things I love about Ashkelon: 1) Their traffic lights are numbered. Isn't that cool? When you give instructions, you say, "Go to traffic light 6 and turn right!" And it works great. 2) They're always building. Building like crazy.
Each of Ashkelon's five neighborhoods has its own schools, public facilities, and of course, its own mall.
Ashkelon is currently a 125,000 person city and it is building homes and municipal structures to ensure that it is 140,000 person city by the year 2020. Watching all the building in Ashkelon, I'm sure they'll make it.
One more point about Ashkelon's population. It encompasses many olim - 40,000 who immigrated to Israel since 1948. There are Russians and Ethiopians, but there are also many olim from Arab countries. In fact, driving around Ashkelon, we noticed several synagogues that had names that indicated the members were from Lybia and Iraq.
There are also special clubs for each group - special arts and education clubs, even special libraries - so that they can be absorbed into Ashkelon and also still maintain former cultures and traditions. While we were in the Heichal HaTarbut (Cultural Center), we even saw posters for theatrical performances in Hebrew with translations to other languages. Something for everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment