Tel Aviv Diary October 23-31, 2016 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - October 23-31, 2016 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

October 23, 2016

Happy Holiday. I realized only last night that we've got another one coming up and invited the kids for dinner - I don't know why I was so confused about the days but I'm not the only one - everyone gets mixed up on the dates when the holidays alternate with sabbaths. we just don't know what day we're at. anyway we had a great holiday dinner and hope to have a peaceful day for a change. Because Tuesday is going to be crazy what with the kids going back to school and no food stocked in the stores. we're going to start off the day with the flu shots we've been delaying for weeks. I'll bet hundreds of people plan the same thing.

So the Russians are tracking our every move now - and we can no longer have the element of surprise in any of our military movements. and the US isn't backing us very much. so we are stuck once again.

October 24, 2016

A woman has been working for me since I started recovering from the last operation - She helps me reorganize the house i haven't been able to take care of for the past couple of years. She's a political refugee from Ethiopia. A very gentle woman who didn't protest when I didn't employ her until I checked her papers with her lawyer who was on vacation for half the summer, but waited patiently. I was really afraid she wasn't legal, and there is a big fine for employing illegals. She isn't Jewish and keeps asking me what the holidays are, what we do, why. I really like her but yesterday I had no patience. She was a hospital nurse in Addis Ababba and here she's handing me stupid files of poetry from the top shelf of my library, dusting them off, and returning them to me. I know she knows how to stitch up a wound, to assist in operations, to minister to patients, and her life now is one of survival. She has left a lover who can't get out of Ethiopia, and is now complaining of food shortages. I think she is 37 and if she wants to raise a family it's got to be soon - how she can bear to dust off my files is beyond me. And what can I do to help? I want to give her whatever I can to give her some hope, but I fear I'm helpless.

There is so much to feel helpless about. The millions of Syrians dead, exiled, wandering, suffering. The refusal of UNESCO to recognize the Wailing wall as a holy site. So I try to do the little I can.

Shlomo Biderman, one of the few colleagues I really admire as a moral intellectual, pointed out in the Hebrew economic paper this weekend that the higher institutions of learning should have been leading the society but have followed an increasingly diluted culture. I read his article just after I had complained to my friend Linda that the faculty of the university have never formed any kind of community and have never learned any sense of responsibility to the university or to society. At Tel Aviv University itself the physical and social situation is such that I have rarely encountered any kind of intellectual discussion among faculty concerning its responsibilities to society. Most people are too busy trying to survive.

October 25, 2016

School starts again tomorrow. I was thinking about how much a kid could learn if we didn't take these extraordinary vacations for our holidays. there are 2 religious holidays which go on for 8 days but have 4 days in the middle that are like every day celebrations except for the holiday observance (eating in a sukkah, eating matzos, etc... And Hannukah shouldn't be a vacation. And we really need much more education. much more practical education. much more methodical group teaching. and less grandparenting. .

October 26, 2016

"We have to support Sarona," my friend said, so we decided to me meet there, in that gentrified entertainment and shopping area in the middle of Tel Aviv that suffered greatly when terrorists opened fire there a few months ago.

And it was paradise. Crowded and happy.

So hard to believe that only a few hundred miles from here people are dying senselessly in Mosel.

Suddenly, now that Hillary seems a shoo-in, the name of Huma Abedin begins to appear all over. We've noticed before how little Clinton speaks of Israel, of the Middle East, and now her campaign's vice-chairwoman is beginning to be noticed - by Trump supporters.

October 27, 2016

An evening for Rivka Basman's new book, in yiddish in hebrew - people spoke of their love for her and her poetry. full of hope and tragedy.

October 28,2016

It was a short note that I wrote about yesterday, but there was no time. My day began at the bank, where we had a long consultancy. the fact that the bank clerk had dragon tattoos on her hands and green fingernails didn't interfere with her ability to calculate money. I was mesmerized by those hands.

From the bank we went to Tel Aviv to pick up the kids from kindergarten and school. Rain was intermittent so we didn't try the parks, or the snarling traffic (everyone knows that on the first day of rain drivers go wild around here). Instead we went for cakes and chocolate milk under a big tree on a sidewalk cafe. Then to Dizengoff center to buy a gift for our nephew. There's an app so you can find the stores, so it wasn't as frenetic as it sounds. And because he's an architect we got him a concrete block that you can grow plants and put pencils in. And then we raced to the evening for Rivka Bassman, left in the middle because we were late for the birthday party, drove down to Yafo, celebrated for a few hours and came home - fortunately too late for the news on tv.

I say fortunately because it is depressing to watch the news before one goes to sleep. they seep into your night, your dreams, your consciousness, your next day.

Today was for root canal, and i discovered that what i suspected was true - my dentist, adroit and confident as she is, is pretty much a beginner. It doesn't change the quality of the work - on the contrary, she is more careful and considerate of me, and tries very hard to avoid causing pain. I like that in a dentist. But I miss my late dentist, with his years of experience in the South African navy, and his raucous humor. When I go for an impant next week, I will bring noise cancelling earphones and a bunch of dirty jokes.

October 29, 2016

Public broadcasting - tomorrow is the day they decide about whether to cancel the public broadcasting law they themselves created last year. There is so much criticism of the government on air that the government has to decided to cancel access to the air. instead of listening to the criticism.

Remember to save these 2 dates. November 8 - Panic Ensemble at the Zone, 13 Harechev St. 9 p.m. (my lyrics) November 11 - me and Mira Awad = 8 Hanarcissim St Kfar Shmariyahu - at 9 p.m.

October 30, 2016

Today we voted at the university to accept the salary offer by the government - almost everyone voted for. we don't have much choice. All these years I've been thinking that we have no choice, but today it seemed incredibly clear that all those years at the university the faculty never got together to do anything about anything, except maybe salaries, and that wasn't so great either.

At 1:40 in the morning i have a MRI for my neck. To get an appointment in the daylight I would have to make it months in advance. Apparently the day is for private patients. I don't mind all that much but it seems to me that people who need MRIs are sick and shouldn't be crawling around in the middle of the night.

October 31, 2016

We made it to the clinic at 1:15 a.m., and were out by 2:15 with the disk in hand. Turns out i had a CT but that didn't slow down the action. Nevertheless I'm not accustomed to such hours, and really need an early night.

My doctor is quitting the health clinic - after at least a dozen years we will have to wean ourselves away from her tender, albeit a bit erratic, care. She's just sick of the public health system - especially the part about 20 minutes max per patient, but probably also the part about the tiny paycheck. I'd go to her privately, but that would only be in a consultive capacity. You can't really go totally privately here because the whole system - medications, hospitalization, etc. - works together.

what do i do at night before i go to bed? I watch Taagad - the Israeli version of MASH.

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