Tel Aviv Diary - September 18-22, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - September 18, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

September 18, 2009

The first thing the board of the Yiddish Writers' Association says to me when I walk into the meeting room this morning was, "Have you made your fish already?" This was a greeting that I remember from my youth - what you say to a woman who isn't home on the morning of the eve of a Jewish holiday. Dare I admit to him I got my fish out of a glass bottle? No, I lied. "The same fish that were swimming in my bath tub on Wednesday were in the pot yesterday and are now cooling in my fridge." I doubt whether he believed me about the fish, or the kreplach either for that matter, but it was fun to reminisce.

According to the latest census there are 75% Jews and 20% Arabs in Israel, but I would like to wish all of Israel a good and a peaceful year.

And a good Eid Il Fitir.

September 19, 2009

I don't work on holidays, but sometimes it is irresistable for me to look for previous generations. Ezi's family is easier to find because most of them are here, but a search for my family begins from zero. The combination of World War II, the baby boomers, and the internet, have made this a very popular sport in general, but in my case it is particularly complex because on my mother's side nothing remains. Today I had a little surprise - an old friend turned out to have the same maiden name for his mother as my own mother, and we come from the same neighborhood. So the year begins with the promise of a connection.

September 21, 2009

There is a devil in me. Preparing to bake a Rosh Hashana cake for my very traditional friend, I couldn't bring myself to make another honey cake, and will be presenting a devil's food instead. And having worn white all day I yearn for an antithetical color. Red? Black?

Will my friend see this as "ifcha mistabra" where you take the opposite point of view to prove the point? Or will she, more likely, see my perversion as a threat to her beliefs?

This kind of question has been coming up a lot lately in my neighborhood. From the other point of view, though. Haredi institutions and a large population of religious people have moved in. Is this a problem? There was a rally the other day to raise awareness of this and I am beginning to understand what the non-religious community is upset about. It is not the presence of religious people, but the sense of the imposition of the religion experience on others. When a group of religious people pass out ice cream to the children and ask that they say a blessing over the food, it calls something into question.

September 21, 2009

Here's a New Year's Resolution for you. I must go to Yaffa Book Store and Cafe before the semester begins. Meet me there: Yafa Cafe at Yehuda Marguza 33, Jaffa.

September 22, 2009

These are busy times - all the clerks in all the public offices woke up and began corresponding - sending in orders with deadlines for the end of the month. Lawyers. Post office. Tax returns (the ones i forgot in april) These are ten tough days. Can I make it through?

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