Just over 100 years ago, Tel Aviv was inhabited by a huge number of people from Europe and the Middle East. These people, only ten percent of whom were actually born in Israel, now make up the oldest section of the population. Most of these immigrants had very particular lives growing up in Tel Aviv: their youth wasn't all about being carefree, their adulthood was punctuated by continuous wars, and they were constantly adapting to new cultural environments. They speak the common language, Hebrew, with different accents, but although they identify as Israelis, their strains of German, Yemeni, Slovak, and Hungarian heritage are still hugely important to them. The “Tel Aviv Grannies” photo series shows this elderly segment of Israeli society. During a six-month stay in Israel, I decided to seek them out and follow them as they went about their everyday lives. I walked the streets, visited the beaches, and joined them in their play and sports activities in order to capture them on film.
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Ramat Aviv Shopping Mall, 8:30 AM. These two met up to chat philosophy and literature.
Gordon Beach, 2:00 PM. She was there alone having a Coke in the middle of her sunbathing session. She lives just by the sea and comes out when she sees there are lots of people.
Dizengoff Center, 1:00 PM. Rosi Star was Austrian, originally. She was having a Wiener schnitzel after meeting a friend, and before meeting another. She was fed up with her grandchildren because they were calling here almost every day. “What do they think? Do I have that much free time for them?”
Heichal Hatarbut, 7:00 PM. We were waiting for the orchestra to start the concert; she comes every week with different friends—this week her neighbors were the lucky ones.
Bus line 129, 5:00 PM. These friends were going to the movie theater. They hadn't seen each other for two months, so they had a lot to talk about. They met up two hours before the new Haneke started, to ensure they had enough time.
Frishman Beach, 12:30 PM. Getting tanned.
Gordon Beach, 6:30 AM. A woman leaves her leg on the beach while taking her morning swim.
Pilates class, 9:30 PM. Stretching at the end of the class. This lady was not flexible before she started going to pilates class, and even though it still hurts a bit, she's improved a lot.
Frishman Beach, 1:30 AM. He was exercising on the beach. We didn't speak a common language, so instead of trying to communicate verbally, he started to show me his muscles. They were really impressive.
Hilton Beach, 4:00 PM. She was from Germany, and he was from Yemen, originally. They met four years ago and have been together ever since. They're thinking of moving in together.
Bus stop, Ramat Aviv, 9:00 AM. This couple had just finished in the supermarket. No further plans for the day had been decided yet.
Heichal Hatarbut, 7:00 PM. When I asked if I could take a picture of them, they started to kiss and hug. They were pretty much the perfect models.
More cool old people: