The city is full of young adults walking around in flip flops, listening to their iPods and gabbing on their cell phones. Many have been out late the previous night at a party, or hanging out on the beach or at a friend’s house. A number of them work strange hours or have a last-minute paper to write for their professors. These young adults probably have the same problems as people of their age anywhere else – thinking about the future, family, school, debt, dating. They may also have more worries than the average young adult, such as their yearly army reserve duty, the never-ending ‘push’ to get things done, and the constant threat of war.
You can find a little bit of everything in Tel Aviv, and the young people of the city reflect this diversity. Tel Aviv strives to be of the same caliber as New York and London, with a large variety of food, activities, and cultures. The city’s young people want to be modern and trendy. Young Israelis have flocked to Tel Aviv in search of a good time, pursuing studies and careers, and looking for a chance to get away from their parents. Striking up conversations with complete strangers while sitting in a cafe is common; young people love to chat and share their opinion, and the conversations are quite amiable.
When the topic of spirituality comes up, you might be surprised at the openness you encounter. People in Tel Aviv would not avoid talking about Jesus (as they might in Jerusalem or Tiberas) – on the contrary, they typically love to discuss this Jewish prophet who claims to be the Messiah. The diversity of Tel Aviv can also be seen in young adults’ choice of their spiritual paths. Many young people come from observant Jewish homes, where their families celebrate Shabbat and other Jewish holidays and taught them about the God of Israel and the Scriptures. In general, most Israeli young people believe God exists. Unfortunately, their faith might be mixed – knowingly or unknowingly – with bits of Buddhism, Hinduism, Hare Krishna, etc. This makes our bold witness for Jesus the Messiah – who is the way, the truth, and the life – even more essential.
There is a young man who sits in the middle of the fresh food market in central Tel Aviv and claims to be the Messiah. He is dressed in a red velvet robe, he has grown his hair and beard long, and he has followers who often sit with him. He is called the ‘Messiah of the Shuk’ (market) by local newspapers and TV. By his growing number of followers, we can see that people either believe him or are at least curious about what he perceives as truth. Young people are searching for answers to the many dilemmas they face as young adults – and in particular, as young adults in Israel. They may try to drown their spiritual longings in the parties, beaches, and experiences of Tel Aviv, but they cannot ignore them.
Chosen People Ministries has been able to reach out to this large segment of Tel Aviv’s population through the Messianic Center in the middle of the city. Every Thursday night, we hold the “Center Cafe,” an outreach that offers a welcoming atmosphere, a free cup of coffee, a listening ear and some great live music. Come to Tel Aviv and sit in the cafes, talk to the young people and hear their stories. You are guaranteed to be intrigued, and maybe you can share your story and your faith as well!