Tel Aviv Diary - November 7-11, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 7-11, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 7, 2009

It is a truth universally acknowledged in Israel that Saturday afternoon should be devoted to the nap. No matter how beautiful the weather is, no matter how many relatives are here from abroad, no matter how much work thee is to do, no matter what noise the neighbors are making, one should sleep after lunch on Saturday. We are not religious in the observation of this ritual, but don't call between 2-4. It is a holy time. And so very pleasurable.

The medical establishment is wondering why no one is coming for the free swine flu shots and the free flu shots. Hello... everybody's sick!!! When we get better we'll come in. In the mean time we're sticking to chicken soup.

Tonight is the memorial for Yitzchak Rabin in Rabin Square. I'd go there if I could, not just to pay respects. I feel his loss every day.

November 8, 2009

Because this is the week of my parents' death (in '85 and '87), I was particularly moved to receive from a wonderful friend who has a company called Facts & Files (Historical Research Institute Berlin) a special gift. It was the addresses of my grandparents who lived and worked next door to each other in Lida on Market Square.

And here is, in their memory and in memory of the 71rst anniversary of the night of the broken glass, a poem to them about the first of September, 1939. They managed to leave Danzig just in time.

NIGHT TRAVEL

for my parents

On that night in Danzig the trains did not run
You sat in the bus station till almost dawn
knowing that if you could not get out,
the invaders would find you, grind you among the first
under their heels.

Toward morning an announcement came of a bus,
and without knowing where it would go
you raced to the stop.
But the Nazis were there first, and you watched
as they finished their search
checking each traveller for papers,
jewelry, a Jewish nose.

Among the passengers you recognized
a familiar face a German woman sitting
with someone else you'd seen
in the neighborhood.
They winked a greeting,
waited for the soldiers to leave,
and jumped out
pushing you up in their place.

Thus you escaped to Berlin, remaining alive
by keeping silent through the long train ride
from Berlin to Cologne in a car filled with
staring German soldiers

And arrived the next day in Holland,
black with fear and transportation.

November 9, 2009

Interesting article about how students at Tel Aviv University are afraid to challenge their leftist professors in haaretz today. I know less than half a dozen leftist professors. I know half a dozen rightist professors. Most of the professors I know don't have much of an opinion one way or another about anything outside their scholarship. That's the problem.

Or maybe I don't know enough professors.

But I can't get over the feeling that we have been trained not to intervene in public affairs, not to apply our knowledge to 'real life,' and therefore to be both 'pure' and irrelevant.

November 10, 2009

Flu shot today. Not swine flu Im not an endangered species. No lines, almost no waiting, no hassle. And probably no results.

"You haven't had a shot for 4 years," the nurse says, as I roll down my sleeve. "It's nice to know someone cares," I respond, wishing they'd also check up on me when I really need them. I took blood tests this morning and realized only as they were drawing blood that they weren't taking enough - that the doctor hadn't noted a few of the repeat tests that had gone awry last month. That means I'll have to be stabbed again next week. How come they can note when I got my flu shot but not if they need to find out if I'm still infected?

Unlike most sane people I actually want all my records on file. Even when I say stupid things that turn out to be wrong, I'd rather have them said then not.

November 11, 2009

There is no English word for the yiddish word "feergun" which has been incorporated into Hebrew, because there is no concept like this. Feergun is the pleasure one shares with the pleasure of the success of others. Usually it is used in the negative, that is when one tries to make someone feel bad about succeeding in something. It is part of our culture. I'm not sure why we like to do this, to criticize people at their most successful moments, but I see it in everything from politics to every day life. Maybe it originates with the fear of the evil eye. Maybe it just encourages excellence. But it doesn't work for me.

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