Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tel Aviv messiahs

Israel , or the Holy Land, has always been a magnet for messiahs (meshichim) and messianists of every weird shape and hue. Of course most of the messiah-action takes place in Jerusalem but the messiah, I was reminded this week, can also be found in Tel Aviv.

On Sunday I ate a felafel in Florentine at the Massiach Ben David restaurant (above). The proprietor who carries this illustrious name (the messiah according to Jewish tradition is descended from the House of King David) was a little orthodox guy who made one of the best (and biggest) felafels I've ever tasted. It did take him about 20 minutes to prepare but what's that in the life of a messiah? This little religious enclave (the simple restaurant is glatt kosher) seems to co-habit happily with its very secular surroundings.

This building was built by the German Christian Templer sect that set up flourishing communities throughout Palestine at the end of the 19th century. A group of these buildings near the Neve Tsedek Tower, ( see earlier blogs) are now being conserved, as "compensation" for the rape of the skyline. This Templer settlement was called Valhalla. The Templers, like the Jews, believed that settling the Holy Land would hasten the coming of the messiah (different messiahs, same idea)

When Hitler came to power many of the Templers joined the Nazi party (apparently as a way to reconnect with their Germanness). The house in the photo was part of a factory compound owned by a Herr Wagner who was the leader of the Nazi Templer faction and who was being groomed to rule Palestine under nazi occupation. The problem was "solved" by the Palmach who, (according to an interesting documentary on the Templers on TV) assassinated Wagner on Levinsky Street.

And today, a new messiah appeared before the cameras. Arkady Gaidemak, the Russian oligarch who launched a new "social" movement and advised us to vote for Netanyahu.

No comments: