Tel Aviv Diary April 19-23, 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary April 19-23, 2019

Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 19-23, 2019

April 19, 2019

Ghosts of seders past - in the old days i felt the wonder of freedom very strongly. I didn't care if the story was true of not. I didn't care that Moses, that Jewish hero with an Egyptian name, was absent from the entire Hagadah. It didn't bother me that the entire hagadah is all about God and rabbis. Now I really want to expand the story - to infuse it with contemporary meaning about the significance of community, the concept of inclusion into society, to make society and our responsibility to others a part of the conversation. but there are only a few people i could begin this kind of conversation with, and they are elsewhere.

Nevertheless, it will be fine. I will forget my ideological needs and have fun with the kids.

We cooked all day - a leg of lamb to symbolize the outstretched arm of the lord, chicken soup with wings to help us fly to freedom, salty to remind us of the sea we crossed, kneidlach for the unleavened part, even mandel brodt with matzo meal - maybe for tomorrow. this goes on for a long time, you know.

April 20, 2019

Long days ahead. the holidays are when you squeeze in as many family and friend visits as possible. there are so many people i don't get to see during the year - so many people i love, and so many people i own so much help to. i love holidays, even if they're exhausting, and i don't care what religion we're celebrating.

April 21, 2019

What a wonderful damper on our holidays - the rain that has blessed us all winter, has now extended to Passover/Easter. Never in my memory has this happened. Always for the seder we take out our spring finery, light colors, delicate fabrics, and put away the sweaters. Our only worry as far as weather is concerned is the dust storms that always come just after we have washed all our windows, cleaned all our blinds slat by slat, and of course, waxed the car. that's when we take some time off and take the kids to the country, the zoo, the desert, .. nature. And even though my nose is running, I'm okay with it. Maybe the summer will be a little less brown this year.

The mass killing in Sri Lanka woke us this morning. Yelena says -this is part of the Notre Dame opening. Churches burning, christian attacked. She says the Jews are not the only targets of radical Muslims. I've heard enough of conspiracy theories at the seder, when one of our relatives connects everything to the idea of the 'single shooter' impossibility.

April 21, 2019

How the hell did we get hail on Passover? it's one of the plagues visited on Pharoah but why was it visited on us? Has anyone considered the fact that we have to reconsider our concept of freedom? Lots of people here are smarting at the fact that their vacation plans for traveling around the country have been foiled, that their freedom has been limited. I think we've gone too far in our estimation of freedom.

We woke up to Sri Lanka - it has been with me all day as the death toll rises by the minute. the amount of hate that can create a series of suicide attacks like this is greater than i can imagine, even though i've been trying all day to wrap my head around it. of course I suspect ISIS, and of course I suspect a conspiracy - much greater than that my crazy relative is certain of.

April 22, 2019

This morning with Rivka Bassman I brought her a book of Rachel Blaustein's poems that had been translated to Yiddish in 1932. it was one of the only books i kept from my parents' library. And I couldn't give it to her - the book was inscribed to my mother from her best friend, Fanny Atlas. Fanny was a seamstress and made most of my clothes before i was a teenager and that must have been why i didn't donate this book. But when we read the poems together, i began to cry, suddenly realizing how the Pioneer Women in New York must have imagined Palestine back then in 1932. It was very moving.

i tried rotating this but my code is wrong, and reloading it didn't work either.

Anyway she wants me to come back next week with my own poems. i think the challenge keeps her alive. so i have to live up to that challenge.

April 23, 2019

Nasrallah is right. we're not prepared for an attack. we're in total denial. the elections proved it. But sometimes even Netanyahu is right. sometimes even paranoids have stalkers.

So ISIS IS behind the mass murder in Sri Lanka. But it doesn't seem to affect the holiday mood in Israel. After the day of rain and hail yesterday everyone is out celebrating.

Everyone but us. i have too much work and Ezi is temporarily agarophobic.

So because I have ADD I watch tv in between paragraphs and verses, and as I write about Whitman and democracy I watch the forming of the new government here. At the same time i come across these lines from the poet who championed democracy: "A majority or democracy may rule as outrageously and do as great harm as an oligarchy or despotism," (Specimen Days, Prose Works 1:260). I love having ADD. Everything comes together.

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