Remembering my study abroad experience in Tel Aviv, I announced to the other teaching fellows of Petach Tikvah, “Everyone speaks English! If you even try to speak Hebrew and they will respond in English!” Wrong. Minutes after arriving in Petach Tikvah, I was biting my tongue as I racked the recesses of my brain for vocabulary words that I had learned in Jewish Day School. There are many residents of Petach Tikvah that do not speak a word of English. It is an excellent place to develop one’s language skills, with countless opportunities to apply the knowledge gained in our program’s biweekly Ulpan.
Maybe it’s time to take a stab at some Ruski. A working knowledge of the Russian language is arguably more valuable than English. Reflecting the demographics of the nation as a whole, Petach Tikvah boasts a major constituency of residents from the Former Soviet Union.
If the feline residents of Petach Tikvah were granted voting rights, they’d be the majority purr-ty and the municipality would become a complete cat-astrophe. They are everywhere. And what’s more, they have really adopted the suburban lifestyle of their human counterparts. Families stay together. I’m pretty sure the kittens go to school during the day and will probably enlist in the army once they’ve reached the appropriate age.
The Sabbath is observed by the businesses of Petach Tikvah. I’ve come to appreciate the quiet of the restful day, but it does take some adjusting for those of us accustomed to having a 24/7 convenience store down the road. Shopping on Friday morning should be avoided at all costs. Petach Tikvah residents descend upon grocery stores en masse Friday mornings. The amount of food purchased during these binges leads me to believe that these individuals are convinced grocery stores may never again reopen. Having become used to this new schedule I look forward to Shabbat. There is something wonderful about the peace and quiet.
As a Californian, public transportation is something of a foreign concept. Even while living in Tel Aviv, I opted for walking or taxis over use of buses. However, living in Petach Tikvah, public transportation is a lifeline. I try to go to Tel Aviv at least three times per week. The change of pace and scenery keeps things new and fresh. I have become exceptionally fond of the 45-minute bus ride to Tel Aviv. It is the perfect amount of time to get some reading in, take a power nap or listen to my favorite Beyonce tracks.
Located in the Em HaMoshavot shopping center, the Hetzi Hinam store is arguably one of my favorite places in Petach Tikvah. They play exactly what I want to be listening to while shopping. Dancing down the aisles is mandatory. Speaking of aisles, the chip aisle is not to be missed. The shelves are lined with flashing LED lighting infusing one’s chip shopping experience with an unparalleled level of excitement. While the music and chip aisle are my two favorite things about the store, it should be noted that the store is very clean, service is great and prices are low. But the chip aisle.
Relive the glory of your youth as the smooth synthetic sounds of the ice cream truck float up to your window. Need I say more?
Petach Tikvah is also called Em Hamoshavot (“mother of the settlements”) because, when founded, it was one of the first Jewish settlements in what was then British Palestine. My friends and I like to joke that many of the original inhabitants of Petach Tikvah remain, as the population’s median age seems to be somewhere around 120 years old. That said, we do see a good deal of children. With the notable lack of residents in the childbearing age range, we are fairly confident the children of Petach Tikvah spontaneously spring from the earth like Cabbage Patch Kids.
Petach Tikvah is home to one of the best open-air markets (“shuk”) in Israel. One of my roommates, a self-proclaimed expert on shuks, argues that it has the best shuk in the country. The marketplace, bustling with old Israeli women, has a huge supply of fresh food at very low prices. While I prefer to shop in grocery stores, I do like to go to the shuk every now and then to reenact the “One Jump Ahead” scene from Disney’s Aladdin.
My roommates think it is hysterical that we live in a place where the chip aisle is worthy of mention on a list such as this. First of all, flashing lights and pretty colors earn spots on my list in any city. Don’t get me started on disco balls. Secondly, my life in Petach Tikvah bears little resemblance to the lives I have lived in San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles. I’m certainly living outside of my comfort zone – I must have left it somewhere in the United States. But that’s a great thing. As a result, I’ve gained perspective, I’ve developed patience and I’ve grown as a person. These are things that can only happen when one lives somewhere mamash Israeli.
Thanks again to the incomparable Holden Sperling, a Masa Israel Teaching Fellow in Petach Tikvah, for providing this list. Ready to give life in Petach Tikvah a try? Find out more.