Tel Aviv Diary - September 16-20, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

September 15, 2010

"Heretics on Wheels," Haaretz joked (In Hebrew only) about the record bicycle sales before Yom Kippur. Heretics, humbug. Some of us would love to spend some time in shul and some at the beach. I, for instance, want to be part of the beginning and the end - kol nidre and neila - whether I believe or not I want to be able to say I am responsible for everyone in my community and I need to beg forgiveness for them as well as me, that no one is a greater sinner, that the society helps to create sinners and I am part of that society. But for the very reason that I want to be among all 'sinners' I don't want some one leading me who thinks he's better than all of us. Especially in the government.

September 18, 2010

My Take on Kol Nidre:

At the beginning of the prayer there is a permission granted to pray among sinners. We don’t know who is given permission and who is the sinner. As it continues it turns out that all of us are – not sinners – but people who err. When you leave out some of the words listed in Aramaic you leave some of the many ways someone can be stuck in a mistake. Cursing someone, for example, or rejecting an other from our society. Also, these promises and sins are intertwined with alliteration and assonance so that one does not differ greatly from another. This inclusion of all the community in the same concept of error seems to be the basis for Yom Kippur. We sin in the plural. And we are responsible for the errors of others as we are responsible for ourselves.

I discovered a strange thing this evening. In surfing for information about something about our president I found there was no site for him. Is this possible? The president of this country doesn't have a website?

September 19, 2010

Erev Yom Kippur, 1973. I was pretty new here. It was a Friday night. As I lay in bed at three in the morning I could feel the mattress shaking. It took twelve hours before war was announced but by then the men in the neighborhood were already called up, and we knew we had been completely caught by surprise, and no one's life would be the same. As soon as we could we stocked up on whatever groceries were left in the local store. I was one of the few women in the neighborhood with a car and a driving license and that made me responsible not only for my own family, but also for others. There was no milk for a while in our neighborhood, then no eggs for months, and no batteries to be found. We needed batteries for our radios to find out what was going on, so I found myself driving to Tadiran in Holon - the end of the world then - to stock up for the neighborhood. We had no phones so our only mode of communication was the radio. What soldiers were killed? what division? I had students who'd been called up and I mailed them the assignments, or even brought them to the homes I hoped they'd be visiting soon.

And now we have a new commander-in-chief of the army who can't even get someone to be second in command under him, daily threats of extinction, and fire on our borders. I'm too old to do another war.

September 20, 2010

As Israel ’s International Red Cross organisation, Magen David Adom has launched a series of initiatives worldwide in order to gain Red Cross access to Gilad Shalit. Magen David Adom UK has set up an online petition to highlight Shalit’s plight and demand the basic human right, as set out in the Geneva Convention, for Shalit to be visited immediately by the International Red Cross. To sign their petition just visit the website below and please forward it to as many people as possible.

Sign here

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