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Proactive Leaders Skip The Third Cup of Coffee

Neve Tzedek is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in Israel located in the southern part of Tel Aviv next to Jaffa along the sea. Like all refurbished neighborhoods before it, Neve Tzedek suffers from a manufactured cosmopolitan quaintness. Just a few years ago it was still dominated by old, working class, families who’d been living in the neighborhood for decades. Sandstorm houses with their red-tiled roofs, small synagogues, and the occasional local grocery were backdrops for transient urban youth and their flirtation with narcotic habits.

Recently, this neighborhood has become the home for the cosmopolitan chic. This select group feels more at home in newly designed homes located in old, character-rich, neighborhoods than in high rise apartments that look over old, character-rich, neighborhoods. The small sand storm houses with their red tiled roofs are disappearing, as are the working families.

The main street, Shabazi, has now become a small version of NYC’s SOHO complete with galleries, coffee shops, ceramic retailers, and reviewed restaurants. As always, I spend my early mornings in Cafe Mia, my favorite Neve Tzedek hangout, which is owned and managed by my young friend Dudu and his fiance Yeara. As usual, a friend or two of mine joins me and we quickly chat about what the Israeli’s call the “mazav” or, in English, “the situation.”

The ‘situation’ usually revolves around three constant dimensions:…

The Palestinian conflict: the fact that nothing has changed.

The Economy: the fact that something must change.

The growth of religious elements: the fact that everything has changed.

Well into my third cup of coffee we’re usually joined by someone a table over and our conversation, usually in English, switches tracks rapidly.

Neve Tzedek has become one of those neighborhoods that’s so deeply ensconced in its own language, its own realities that you can talk about almost anything there. It is a surreal oasis of quaintness that can cause one to lose perspective quickly. It’s a park bench that we sit on and pontificate from–passionately suggesting we have solutions for the world’s problems. Too many of us have become passive sitting and drinking coffee in neighborhoods like Neve Tzebek. The challenge is to become more proactive and do something about the problems we face. I think tomorrow I’ll skip the third cup of coffee.



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