Student Days at Tel Aviv U

Okay, it’s time for me to reprise my personal favorite story of the Winter season.

It was 1973 and I was a first-year grad student at Tel Aviv University. I entered Israel on a tourist visa, and the Yom Kippur War made a bit of a mess of my various legal status papers. I had to get some sort of U.S. documentation that would allow me to convert my tourist visa to student status. Having already volunteered for the IDF I could have just declared Israeli citizenship, but then there would have been other complications…

Tel Aviv University is not actually in Tel Aviv–it is in a suburb called Ramat Aviv, and it can take awhile by bus to get from campus to anywhere in the rest of the city. I waited for a good time to schedule the trip and then one sunny winter morning, I set out. I took the bus from Ramat Aviv to the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, and then another up the Mediterranean coast which stopped just a few blocks from the American Consulate.

Now, I had been looking forward to this trip for some time because it was well known that the American consulate had a cafeteria open to U.S. citizens which served the best hamburgers in Israel. These days that’s no longer true–Israel has turned into quite the foodie haven and there are lots of places to get great hamburgers. But not in 1973.

After my hour-long journey I trudged up the few steps of the porch of the Consulate and tugged on the door. It was locked! A sign was posted that announced, “Merry Christmas.” Being in Israel, I had forgotten what December 25 might mean to a U.S. Consulate!

Oh well, I had to satisfy my hunger with a perfectly excellent felafel sandwich and start the hour-long journey back to Ramat Aviv. My visa–and hamburger–would have to wait for another day. Closed for Christmas

2 thoughts on “Student Days at Tel Aviv U

  1. Hi David, thank you for you for taking the time to reply, and I too look forward some day to sharing a table with you in Israel. But you you’ve made an error here that requires correction. The office where I went in 1973, 71 HaYarkon St., is still very much in operation and conducting the same sorts of activities. I suspect they still serve some good hamburgers!

    You are confusing this office with the building that housed the ambassador. That has been sold as far as I know. And it is true that the official embassy of the USA has been moved to Jerusalem. But the part that you always want to down play is that the USA did not do what it could have done, and locate that embassy in East Jerusalem, which would have sent the message that the USA supports the idea that Israel should control all of Jerusalem. No, they chose to situate the embassy in West Jerusalem, which has never been under dispute. The area of the new USA embassy is in the part of Jerusalem that has been part of Israel since 1948.

  2. You should see what documentation is required to get into Israel right now! My son just went through it.
    Thankfully, that building is now empty. The embassy has been moved to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, where it belongs.
    I hope we get to enjoy some of that high quality food together one of these days, and a for sure, a good Felafel as well.
    Merry Christmas

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