Another view: The Na Laga'at Center

Another view: The Na Laga'at Center

The Na Laga'at Center

 

Tel Aviv is a diverse city comprised of large amounts of beautiful people from a variety of backgrounds. The overwhelming acceptance of people, despite their differences is what makes Tel Aviv unique within Israel and a special world city to visit.

As Israelis are a forward thinking and creative bunch, it is of no surprise to me that the only deaf, blind and deaf-blind center in the world where hearing and visually impaired people can meet temporarily able-bodied people in an environment of equality and mutual understanding is in Tel Aviv and it’s called the Nalaga’at center.

Both intellectually and emotionally enriching, The Nalaga’at Center is an unbelievable event where you can enjoy a play, meet some cool waiters and have some great food. I treasured the experience and although I was both apprehensive and narrow minded in my willingness to “experience disability” I went along for the ride.

My friend had arrived in Israel and we were enjoying our morning breakfast at Sea Executive Suites. I took her up to the balcony to look out over the breathtaking view of the sea stretching from port to port, the cobbled Yaffo port to the North Tel Aviv Port.

She suggested we speak to the concierge about something different to do, she has been in Tel Aviv before and being a real culture vulture, going for a slap up meal wasn’t enough to impress.

The concierge suggested the Nalaga’at centre which literally translates as the “Please touch center.” In addition, he also gave me the heads up on there being a great restaurant there.

The center is in Yaffo, two minutes from the sea and has three equally moving parts to it, the theatre, the café and the restaurant.

The Theatre

The theatre runs shows which have a cast of deaf, blind and blind-deaf actors and interpreters which have been shown worldwide. The productions are a successful attempt to assist theatre goers in understanding the lives and everyday experience of being disabled.

Currently running the “Not by bread alone” production, the theatre has also shown “Light is heard in Zig Zag”. If you are interested in more information on what’s on at the theatre the centers website has a schedule in English.

Without ruining the storyline of the production and the uniqueness of the interactive experience, I will say the performance is both exciting and transformative. The audience is involved, enthusiastic and open to a new type of show which has now become a worldwide phenomenon.

The Kapish Café

Being an English speaker in non-English speaking countries has taught me above all things, that the ability to communicate is paramount. Not having the correct words in a social setting puts you at the disadvantage because it is harder to connect with others. Deaf and hearing impaired people are more than often at this disadvantage every day and one of the fascinating things about the Kapish Café, is that here, the tables are turned.

They approach you with sign language and a lot of facial expressions and honestly I felt a little anxious. I have no experience communicating in sign language and I didn’t want to appear rude. We forget how much we rely on words to get us through procedures and in this instance you simply can’t rely on your diction. I realized that this might be how disabled people feel every day and I felt humbled.

The friendly and helpful waiters took away all the anxiety I had and made me feel right at home, I even learned a few things in sign language in one of their workshops and had a great coffee.

The café is a moving environment that also runs sign language events where you can learn the basics of Israeli sign language in a fun and fresh environment.

The Blackout restaurant

Try going out for dinner in a pitch black environment. In fact, try doing anything with your eyes closed, apart from sleeping.  You don’t know where anything is and you have to rely on your other senses.

The waiters in the restaurant are all blind and meals are served at 6.30pm and 9.30pm, reservations in general need to be made at least 3-4 days in advance.  The seating arrangement is to suit the needs of the waiters and I shared a table with another couple who were also new to this type of experience.

There are several things on the menu which are called “surprise” and I tasted them all and they were all great, the fish the vegetarian and the dessert. The meal comes with bread, drinks, first, second course and dessert and is of a very high quality. This is truly a unique dining experience.

Tel Aviv is a diverse city comprised of large amounts of beautiful people from a variety of backgrounds. The overwhelming acceptance of people, despite their differences is what makes Tel Aviv unique within Israel and a special world city to visit.

The Nalaga’at Center is an empowering once in a life time experience that everyone should try and there is no better place than in the cultural and artistic hub of Tel Aviv.

 

Cover photo by: Talsab87 - נוצר על ידי מעלה היצירה https://he.wikipedia.org


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