Tel Aviv Diary March 5, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - March 5-15, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 5, 2017

We left for Florida on the 17th of February. Ezi dragged me all the way. It is a long and tiring trip at best and Ezi chose to take Lufthansa which stopped in Frankfurt. So we flew to Frankfurt, raced the entire length of the airport, more than 4 kilometers, and made the flight to Miami. There we met our son and granddaughters and tried to understand the joys of Miami Beach for a few days before we went to Fort Lauderdale for a wedding, and then spent over a week visiting old and new friends and learning about the life in Florida before returning to Miami and then back to Israel. It seems like a vacation but both of us are totally wiped out and in need of complete rest now.

It was only when I got home did I read of the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Rochester: here. It wasn't the specific area my parents are buried in - but I've been dreading this thought ever since the antisemitic epidemic began in the US. Even the thought is like a kick in the stomach of my entire life. All the antisemitic acts until now have hurt, but desecration of a grave hurts the most. The respectability of the elders.

March 6, 2017

We have been home less than 2 days and already the action that characterizes this society begins. The city is about to rip up our street and give us new electric cables and phone lines and all that. it will take 10 months and it will be a big mess. So the neighbors were invited to the local library for an explanation of what will happen. It was good to see our neighbors and nice to meet the civil servants, but we know there is no relation between all the wonders we're being promised and the next year.

What was most amazing was that in the urban struggle between trees and cars - in our case - the trees won.

March 7, 2017

It is hard to catch up with the investigations into Bibi's behavior. There is just so much to worry about, so much to feel disgusted over. Instead, we prefer to spend the day helping grandchildren with their superhero costumes and hoping they will grow up into a more honest world of wise leadership. This isn't the season of wisdom, however. Few people in the megilla were wise - mostly they were pretty stupid.

March 8, 2017

Picture this: I am in the theater sitting in a row full of divorce and criminal lawyers and we're watching "Portraits of a Marriage." It was a great play, and it got a standing ovation, but I kept thinking that all these wonderful minds are focussing on the well-discussed and boring subject of marriage and divorce (which probably still has top billing in Sweden) while in this country it is just so much more complicated. Again - it was a great play - great in its time and wonderfully produced tonight.

March 9, 2017

Okay marriage is a system and we are stuck in the system, dressing, thinking, and even feeling what the system demands. And politics is also like that. We wind up going along with the system, thinking what we're supposed to think about our 'enemies' and living the way we are enabled to live.

I must admit that Israel's 'system' of marriage is just a bit different from Sweden. There is much more commitment and family intimacy - at the same time there are external imperatives that alienate individuals in families from each other even as they bind them. the army for example. A son goes away to the army, experiences earth shattering situations, and returns for the weekend with his laundry. maybe he can speak about some of what goes on to his father. but rarely dare he expose his mother who might not understand the emotional complexities of conflict

I had a little glitch just now and the rest of my argument disappeared. And now it's gone.

March 9, 2017

As I wished my son good evening I found myself reminding him that on Purim you are not supposed to know the difference between good and evil, that is, I said, stop judging.

As part of my catching up with the news i didn't look at in the past month I looked up the Raqqa bridge (route 6) in Syria. This bridge, as you will remember, was built by Ezi's grandfather Arpad Gut, and because it carries the water pipe to the city, I use it as a touchstone to the situation in Raqqa. Last year it was injured and repaired but on February 3 it was bombed and the water line broken.

Here is the evidence. (the link doesn't seem to work - look it up on google) I understand it hasn't been repaired. Of course it is a necessary step to the eradication of Isis, but I cannot help thinking of the thirst in the city.

Of course there are even worse things happening in Raqqa - good and evil are mixed there in a way that it is impossible to judge, and impossible not to sympathize with the helpless citizens.

We heard the megilla tonight - in Yiddish - at the wierd Tel Aviv bus station. it may have been one of the strangest Purims I've ever experienced. The highly entertaining Mendi Kahan read parts of the megilla in ashkenazi and explained in Yiddish. We were shaking with laughter, especially because his concentration was on the seduction of Ahashverus, but then we went out into the labyrinth of the bus station and the grimy world of poverty and displacement sobered us.

March 10, 2017

I realize today that I was hampered from full enjoyment of the Megilla (minus of course, the terrible revenge the Jews take on the supporters of Haman) by the increasing ache in my left foot. I woke in the middle of the night to the pain that i now realize has been troubling me vaguely for weeks but was now impossible to ignore. So instead of going to Tel Aviv to see all the costumes I stayed close to home and worked on the lecture on Bob Dylan I have to give in less than two weeks. My house is a mess, I didn't make hamentashen, and I will not dance the night away, but I will have dinner with friends and that's a good way of celebrating too. I hope they don't mind if i take my shoes off and keep my leg up. I know! I'll dress up as a patient.

This video is my choice for Purim spirit in Tel Aviv. Titanic costume . The freedom of stepping outside yourself and absolutely letting your imagination go wild is absolutely necessary for an intellectual.

By the way, if you have anything to tell me about Bob Dylan's love songs, tell me now. Please. I have built up a reputation for knowing about music that has no basis in reality.

March 11, 2017

happy purim.

No really. Happy Purim. There are so many reasons for depression today that we need to find alternative ways of thinking. I know the megilla winds up with a lot of hatred and destruction, but the general message of the holiday seems to be that we have to mix things up in order to survive. I'm not a very authoritative person so I can't tell anyone what to do but i do think we have to try totally different directions than the ones we are heading on now. So dress up in something totally opposite you. It might lead you into a different world.

March 12, 2017

And then comes the hangover, right?


What if even one of the sons of Haman was not evil Ė
didnít even carry the evil gene, and might have been
so much of a reaction to the evil he had seen
his only thoughts were of love.
What if he had been the one
to father the peace maker of Persia
in our time
how can I celebrate until I do not know
the difference?

March 13, 2017

Even the museum today was all about Purim. Children in costumes, all kinds of stands offering free photographs, kids activities, etc. we had a great day with Omer who is learning how to read and therefore loved the exhibit of Yair Garbuz which uses words to dialogue with his colorful crazy paintings. The exhibit was altogether pleasurable. And now we are in bed, exhausted from a day with just one grandchild.

Now that I think about it, we have spent a week with grandchildren off and on. And jetlag.

March 14, 2017

How could I not love Tel Aviv? I was reading an article in the times about a guy who was painting scenes of his beloved Aleppo, and it reminded me of what Chaim Basist wrote about his beloved Lida before the war. These were two tragically nostalgic essays I read yesterday, and today I went to Tel Aviv, misdirected totally in my trip by the gps, in part due to all the digging being done to build the new subway. (On the way home I didn't use the gps and wound up stuck in a tiny street with a dozen cars before me and six cars behind me and we all had to back up and turn into a one way street going the other way because - for some reason - everything was blocked. Not sure why. So it's not a good city to drive in. But it is a great city to walk in. And as I walked down Mazeh street I came across Appie's water tower and decided to walk in. There is even a sign that says Arpad Gut built this. And as I was admiring it an American couple joined me and I had to brag that I was his grand daughter in law. So we took pictures and then we all went about our business. The intimate ties to the city belong to Ezi - who grew up her - but I too melt when I come across some public place that is somehow linked to me. And so many places are - somehow - linked to me.

March 15, 2017

My first rehearsal with three actresses who are doing a play on my clothes poems. they were so much better than I am. It was the end of a very long day and only at night did I get to the news. I have to tell you - my life is better than the news.

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