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Israel: Cooling off in the Mediterranean

Jaffa, Israel

This isn’t the type of bathing attire that you’ll typically see at an American beach or swimming pool.  But it’s quite popular in the Middle East.

This is the ancient port town of Jaffa, Israel, which is located just south of the country’s largest city – Tel Aviv.  About one-third of the 46,000 people who live in Jaffa are Arab citizens of Israel.

A couple of miles north of where I took this photo, on white-sand beaches overlooked by high-rise hotels and apartments, you’ll find Israelis wearing some of the skimpiest bathing suits anywhere in the world.  In the Moslem culture, though, it’s generally not considered acceptable for women to show a lot of skin in public.

But as the temperatures soared into the upper 90s, these women wanted to cool off.  So they did what they had to do to stay cool.  They plopped right down into the Mediterranean Sea – complete with their long-sleeved dresses — called abayas — and head veils — known as hijabs.

I can’t imagine that swimming in such heavy clothing is particularly comfortable.  But modesty is an important part of the Moslem culture.  And think of all the shekels they’re saving in suntan lotion.

Copyright © Dan Fellner  2013


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