Israel is considered by many to be the biblical Holy Land, with its borders all but mapped out in the Old Testament. Israel is not without its contradictions: The country is home to one of the world’s oldest cities, yet it has some of the most modern skate spots on Earth; and although Israel has become synonymous with unrest, the authorities are surprisingly lenient in regards to skateboarding (it’s pretty much encouraged). Having officially gained its independence in 1948, Israel is made up of magnificent contemporary architecture (which are abundant in Tel-Aviv) and ancient edifices that still seem virtually untouched.
“Cultural, welcoming, and completely awesome.”
Monster team riders Sam Beckett, Rune Glifberg, and Tom Schaar made their own pilgrimage to Israel—with follow-filmer extraordinaire Chris Gregson—and visited the country’s incredible mix of old and new spots, and Holon, Galit, Netanya, and Ashod skateparks. For each rider, it was their first time in the Holy Land. Glifberg has a video project in the works, and he brought his fellow travelers along for the ride. The trip spanned two weeks, and while Glifberg was already aware of the significance of Israel in the Bible he wasn’t prepared for how strong the skate scene is in the country. “There was a good amount of skateboarders at all the skateparks we went to,” adding that the experience was “cultural, welcoming, and completely awesome.”
“Everyone we met was really rad and stoked to show us around!”
The crew knew that skatepark designers Grindline and Dreamland had built some beauties in Israel recently, but the sheer scope of the parks available was still shockingly impressive in person. Beckett was taken aback when he started to really explore the parks available in the country. “I had no idea quite how many there were and how incredible they would be, he says. “Also, everyone we met was really rad, and super stoked to skate and show us around.”
Likewise, Schaar was also taken by how welcoming the locals are. It’s natural to feel a little apprehensive about skating so near to the sacred ground, possibly even interpreted as being disrespectful. But Team U.S.A.’s Schaar was relieved to learn, early on, that this isn’t the case in Israel. “All the Israeli people that saw us skating would stop and film and clap when we landed something,” he says. “They were super down for skating… When are we going back?”
“They were super down for skating...”
It actually seems as though the Israelis were the least uptight of all the people that Beckett, Glifberg, and Schaar encountered during their many missions in the Holy Land. Reflecting on the overall vibes at the spots, Glifberg figures that interactions with the locals were extremely positive on the whole. The crew felt welcomed at every turn, making their two-week journey a spiritual experience for the books (or Book). “The locals would stop and watch us skate for a bit,” Glifberg says, “then just carry on with their day. With smiles on their faces.” Next time you get kicked out from a spot, just keep the faith—and book a ticket to the Holy Land.