Tel Aviv Diary April 15-30, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - April 15-30, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 15, 2017

Rivka was fine. Her dark cottage turned bright again in an hour.

As Holocaust Day nears I begin again my search for lost relatives and their histories. I discover my aunt the partisan who fought with the soviets can get no credit in Lithuania or Belarus because they consider Russia a totalitarian state and jews who fought with them enemies of the people. Maybe that's why I can't find out anything about her.

Because we will be occupied all morning tomorrow and it is erev hag and we'll have no time to cook and we have 14 guests we hadn't figured on, we decided to go to Tiv Tam today. The decision came after we had coffee with cousins in the 7 star mall, but all the usual supermarkets are closed on shabbat, so we decided to go to Tiv Tam. Visiting Tiv Tam is like going abroad to Mother Russia - not only are all foods available there - including treif and hametz - but the abundance, quality, and variety is unlike anything in the regular supermarkets. The organic foods and beauty products section is run by a pharmacist, a middle aged woman in hijab who is quite knowledgeable, but the meat and cheese sections features only Russian women. We came home loaded down with goodies we had not thought to buy, and after a rest until sundown we'll begin cooking and setting up.

The idea of going there came to me after I read in Haaretz an article on the large number of Russians who leave Israel after they have established themselves here. Some for education and employment, some for ideology, some for other opportunities. But I wanted to be reminded of all the three quaters of a million Russians who remain here, and live their lives as if they were in Russia. Their culture and language and diet is Russian, and it is very much a contribution to our own freedom.

April 16, 2017

Yesterday was my mother's birthday - she would have been 112. She probably would have lived longer than 82 years, but had no desire to live after my father died.

I wonder what she would have thought of my stubborn life style pushing against the religious constrictions of this country. What would she have thought of my buying treif on Shabbas? And if I had been living in the US I would probably have been in synagogue at the same time.

April 17, 2017

I thought we would take the second holiday lightly. Maybe visit some relatives, maybe go out for dinner, maybe watch a good movie. But I wound up with 15 people for dinner, and worse yet the guests turned out to be six kids who weren't interested in food, one adult was sick and suspiciously contagious, two left their kids off and came back an hour and a half later, and I would have given anything to just put my feet up. But it was still a lovely dinner, and we have leftovers if you want to come by. They'll be around for a while because we're going out to lunch today and dinner tomorrow.

April 19, 2017

On the way back from taking Oren to the airport we took a short cut and stopped in some strange outlet shopping center in Petach Tikva. A strip mall that seems to cater to the extreme religious because of the special supermarket - yesh chesed - that feeds the poor. I went crazy there - all kinds of clothes I usually grab up in the US because it's so cheap there and so expensive here. leggings, gym clothes, socks, etc. Even Ezi bought clothes - simple and useful stuff. It was 7 and the mall was pretty much empty - just like in the US. In the mall near where we live (and pretty much every mall in Israel) there is almost always big action.

A mysterious flu kept us from going north yesterday to the memorial for Tina. First Ezi and then I fell strangely ill - a 12 hour flu, it seems. By this afternoon it was over.

April 20, 2017

The absolute disdain i have for the humanity of Bibi yesterday turned to a bit of pity. Not only was he responsible for the debacles of the last war, but he had no idea how to handle the bereaved families who came to the Knesset to participate in the debate over the publication of the mistakes of this war. He had brought his two Rottweilers - Biton and Zohar - to bite back at any criticism, but they were not trained properly.

A delightful place sit, watch people, and eat vegetarian is Bocca Cafe on Ahad Haam Street. They spell it Bocke I think. I had an amazing kinoa burger there today and we spent a few lovely hours facing the sidewalk where an endless number of interesting people stopped. It took us a while to find a place there. We started at Nechama and a Half, moved around Habima square, and finally found a place to sit there. It was worth the search.

April 22, 2017

Antishefa yesterday was as good as ever. But it came after a grueling morning at the dentist which followed an early gym class, so we didn't go gallivanting with the crew. Nevertheless there was dinner at daughters and then a blessed day of rest. The hamsin brought the temperature to 35 centigrade and closing the windows and shades and basking in the cool shabbat was blessed.

Tel Aviv is battling to keep its little grocery stores open on shabbat and there is much debate on the nature of shabbat. Me i do like the idea of a day of rest, but hate the idea of being forced to do anything. Everything here is becoming a matter of religious domination and it is our fault. I mean if we accept the theocracy it's our responsibility - we're the majority.

April 23, 2017

Holocaust Day is tomorrow, and the mood is already changing in the country. We are going to visit the painting of Kurt Gerron, hanging for a few months in the Stark Museum in Haifa, and revisiting his story. Every time I begin research on him, my understanding changes. Every piece of writing I read, teaches me more about this human being whose humanity prevented him from leaving in time.

{apologies for the size of the photographs. i will try to change them without sneaking a peak at the text)

The mood changes during the day. We visit the exhibit and apologize to Kurt that we are leaving him alone for so many months in this place where his name is not even mentioned and no one knows a word about his history, his greatness, his tragedy.

And there is no place to tell it in the Struck museum. When the curators cancelled their appointment with us Ezi tried to explain to them who he was and what was the significance of this painting, but there seemed to be little interest. They are art curators, not historians.

It was a relief to discover the perfect counter to this sadness - the Elheir restaurant. Something about the openness of the view of this restaurant opposite the cinemateque, the joy in the fresh, local foods; the warmth of the owner;


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