Tel Aviv Diary - April 13-17 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - April 13-17, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 13, 2009

Don't even ask where I was all day. I myself don't know - couldn't figure it out after we turned off at Beit Shemesh. It's outside of Tel Aviv, you know. And I was gone all day. And the traffic! It is as if the whole country is on the road. We called the *955 number to see what the traffic would be like and the advice was something like - why didn't you stay home? The sight of Tel Aviv on the way home was a lovely relief.

April 14, 2009

Because I was running in and out with little errands this morning, I couldn't help paying attention to my Auschwitz graduate neighbor because she was sitting by the font gate with a young man who resembled her a little, and they were looking at pictures he had downloaded from the internet. She was wearing her usual homemade nightgown and robe, but her mad look was mitigated by the fact that she had her false teeth in and her old faded beauty emerged from her intense eyes. "Yes, that's your great-grandfather," she said, one time as I ran home with a bunch of parsley for tonight's soup. "Show me more pictures of the family," I heard her exclaim as I passed by with the dog, who was in a big hurry. And then, finally, as I went up for lunch, "I can barely talk, I'm so excited...Come back again sometime soon and bring more." I didn't want to interrupt but all her words pierced my heart. I have been looking up my aunt for weeks - trying to find how she was killed, whether a single picture exists of her. The sense of loss, the hole that can never be filled because no one remains - it doesn't matter that she is schizophrenic and that I'm a sentimental idiot - the need to go back, to find what remains, is shared by many. I'll put what I've learned about my aunt on this site on Holocaust Day.

April 15, 2009

Turn on your tv to channel 24 - At 4 p.m. Panic Ensemble will be performing in the transparent studio on the beach. I may go down there but at the moment I'm still grading exams, and i'd like to record

And if you're in Haifa you can see Panic live tonight in the Beat Club on 124 Hanasi Blvd or tomorrow in Tel Aviv at Ozen Bar (King George and Ben Zion Blvd). And if none of these are available to you - then look them up on youtube: here: the oldest woman, the closer you getand,On this night. There are a lot of other sites you can see them on. Look for them and tell them what you think. We want to go on the road!

Wait - you can see the live show now! Go to themako siteand watch!

If you missed it don't worry - the music was as good as ever, but the interview... well, i should have been there.

Cooloolooloo. Tonight Mimuna begins. I'm holidayed out and will not be celebrating.

April 16, 2009

The rain cancelled out Mimuma celebrations - quite a shame. But you asked what Mimuna is about and I may not have explained it. Mimuna is the holiday celebrated by Moroccan Jews one day after Passover. It is a celebration of sweets and picnics and visits, because it is linked to a celebration of life. Sometimes I forget that it isn't only an opportunity for politicians to visit potential voters and get photographed eating a mufletta. Because Mimuna is connected to "Emuna," the word for faith, and getting through Passover was always a problematic affair. It was never easy for Jews. Look what happened to Jesus on Passover.

April 17, 2009

"Talk about miracles, I'm a walking miracle myself," my neighbor told me this morning, and I thought she was referring to the fact that we had met all the time last year in the Hemotology ward. But that wasn't it at all - "No, I'm just in remission," she said, "That means sooner or later it will come back." "If something else doesn't kill you first," I say heartlessly. After all, whenever a doctor does my medical history and asks me what my grandparents died of, I always say "Hitler." So I don't have a very clear idea of what might kill me in the future from my genetics. "That's what i mean by miracle," she says. "My parents got out of Poland at the last moment. I wouldn't exist, and my children and grandchildren wouldn't exist...."

This sense of a miracle constantly invades my sensibility in Tel Aviv. Not just because we have Holocaust Day coming up (and there's an interesting piece by Dalia Karpel today in Ha'aretz in Hebrew about Kurt Gerron and his filming of Thereisenstadt before he was gassed in Auschwitz). At least half of my friends would not be alive today had they not been saved somehow from the holocaust.

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