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Heart of a Nation

Tel Aviv is not a symbol. It is not, as the “lev” (Hebrew for “heart”) sound in Tel Aviv suggests to some, a bubble of the heart. It is a real city. It is a home for so many people, embodying so many stories of the Jewish journey. Eli Mohar who wrote some of the finest Israeli lyrics, once wrote how in Tel Aviv a person might sit on a bench on an avenue and feel as though he were simply living a normal urban life. Tel Aviv holds that dream, as the world’s only secular Jewish urban public space. It sometimes works. Even between sirens there are moments of serenity where a person can drink a good cup of coffee not as a Jew and not as a Zionist idealist. It has the sweet taste of normality. Don’t mock that wish. Respect it. People who lack that dream of just being a human being on a bench on an avenue are not good partners in building the Jewish state.

Ruth Calderon is head of the culture and education department at the National Library of Israel.

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