Tel Aviv Diary - July 17-21, 2014 - Karen Alkalay-Gut


July 17-21, 2014

Today we laid to rest a great warrior for peace, our wonderful friend Michael Sternberg. We will miss him terribly. He was eulogized by UN officials, by Israeli liaisons, by friends, by his wife, and by songs. But it was his Muskeegee brother-in-law who said "we will up later on the road," who broke my heart.

Appropriately his funeral took place during the very brief cease=fire, and rockets are flying over our heads again. Ezi even opened the window to watch the rocket being taken down. It is an amazing sight and yet I can do without seeing another one in my life.

July 18, 2014

Impossible to summarize a day when things change minute by minute. I have become a bit better in analyzing where I will hide if an alarm sounds while I'm driving, but I'm not really good at racing to the place without falling on my shoelaces. I'm also a little better in identifying the difference between a rocket being intercepted and my upstairs neighbor slamming down the toilet seat. But I still jump at both.

My event at the Arab-Jewish Theater is still on for Monday. I know that no matter how distracted and befuddled I am the show is good, so I hope there's no reason to cancel it. There's a section we just added (Shawn and me) where Ezi's echoing voice speaks in the part of Aristotle laying down poetic and cosmetic laws that makes me think the whole effort is worth it. And when Heli takes a veil and dances with it in a way I would have wanted to all my life, it's good. It's very good.

And yet, as they say, when the Cannons roar the muses are silent. Well maybe not the muses but their audience. Most of my friends have even not told me they're coming!

I busy myself with mathematics. Let's see 700 ton concrete per tunnel meant for terrorism in Israel, times let's underestimate, 25 tunnels. how many protected homes could have been built with that? How many factories?

The first time we had a barrage of rockets tonight we were just the regulars in the shelter but the second time there were lots more. Friday night dinner at the neighbors. We have an enormous shelter, room for at least 30 people sitting down and at least 30 more standing. But it is a strain to run down all those stairs. Most of our neighbors are too old to make it.

July 19, 2014

Omer's fourth birthday today. We're having it here because there's no shelter at their house. Hot dogs and buns. Speedy McQueen cake.

Now tell me I should be feeling guilty because the children in Gaza don't have birthday parties today. I feel terrible for them, but not guilty. There is no doubt in my mind that we could have had a wonderful relationship and could have improved all of our lives, but their leaders chose a path of destruction, of their own futures as well as ours. When Omer's mother was his age, she was playing in the fields of Gaza with the children, barefoot and giggling at the goats. I would look out of the window from the room where I sat with the women and see a beautiful tomorrow.

July 20, 2014

With a terrible today for all almost over, I'm still planning on trying to enthrall an audience tomorrow. How? Because we have to believe in life in order to go on living. This has been an awful day, and there will be awful days ahead of us. But the order in art helps us keep together.

Sometimes we come together in rehearsals and everything has gone wrong along the way. One day Heli couldn't find her way to my place (where we had to meet because the hall was suddenly unavailable) and somewhere in the middle of the road a rocket got shot down right above her. Nowhere to hide. She finally came to rehearsal all shook up and got right into her role of my alter ego.

Still, still, each soul lost, each body injured, sits in my heart.

Iím kind of starring in a show at the Arab-Jewish theater in Jaffa. Itís about covering, and how poems are clothes and clothes are poems.

Most of it is in Hebrew but it has English subtitles, and the more English speakers in the audience that I know about, the more English there will be.

It starts at 9 p.m. and if you say the magic word, ďOrpheusĒ the ticket is only 40 shekel.

Iíd love you to come and help me get through this first poem-play Iíve done since the Israel festival almost 10 years ago.

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