Tel Aviv Diary April 29-May 3, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - April 29 - May 3, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

April 29, 2017

Couldn't take the long entries any more. i know i'm not user-friendly, but the long pages were not friendly to me either.

And now we have spent the morning doing banal maintenance activities. Maybe not banal. My Hebrew book, Ways to Love, is finally coming out and the launch will be on July 3. This means getting people together to appear and present the book. And it means insulting 95% of my friends.

Ezi on the other hand is really hard at work digging up construction evidence about that pier and both of us were very happy to stay at home. Except at some moment i decided to take a break and go to the hardware store for a bath mat, since I've been slipping around dangerously lately. But the crowds were terrible - overwhelming and rude. What happened? Independence Day, Ezi reminded me. Everybody needs a tent, a grill, coal, chairs. It made me sick.

How can a person
who has lost
a parent, a child, a lover
in the war,
bear the pain
of Memorial Day celebrations;
watch the preparations
for picnics, parades,
sales, vacation
and not break
from the waste?

April 30, 2017

Even though I was at the university today I didn't go to the memorial service. Just the thought of my fallen students, the boys with so much to live before them, kept me sitting at the coffee shop (they weren't serving for the hour of the service) comiserating with a mourning friend. Now all the shops are closed and it is very quiet. The television will only show sad programs tonight and no one really wants to celebrate in any way.

Suddenly I remembered my dance partner Saffy who blew up while waiting for a bus almost 15 years ago. how she feared danger all the time. And it came to her. I know no one of her family, no one who knew her. My dance group fell apart long ago. Still, she comes to me every once in a while.

Mike - who reads this journal - may remember that in the '73 war I used to leave assignments for him in his mailbox while he was in the army - so that he would not lose the semester. It didn't help. he was in reserve duty for six months and missed the entire year of studies. Now it seems like a small sacrifice in the face of the enormous sacrifices others made. Let there be no more sacrifices.

At the same time, I am trying to get together some salads for the day after - counting how many people for tomorrow evening's celebrations and how many for the picnic the day after. So while some people go to the military cemetery in the morning, I will be food shopping.

Memorial Day, May 1, 2017

The guy in the back row
who was sometimes the only one
who laughed at my jokes,
the young man who needed
only one more recommendation
to get into a good graduate school
and I could easily write it for him,
the boy whose name suddenly appeared
on the tv screen after years
of appearing for me only
in the rosters of my class;

I asked you all,
“What are you going to do
with a degree in English Literature?”
no one said, “Die in a war,”
“fall on a mine,” “blow up in a market.”

Chaucer and Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf –
stand up at attention today at the sirens.

We move slowly from mourning to celebrating. I don't know how we do it but i know it happens. We hung the flag on our balcony to honor the fallen and keep it up to rejoice in the fact of the state.

May 2, 2017

Can't help it - I'm proud of this country. I get angry with the politics, I get fed up with the social interaction, the school system, the poverty of the universities, incredible underfunding of the health system, but wow, is this a great place to live.

We spent last night with friends, today at a family gathering, and then a memorial for Ezi's father that went on all evening. At every gathering we found ourselves talking about heritage - particularly the heritage of Israel. What are the values we pass on to the coming generations.

May 3, 2017

I've been writing Yiddish all day. After that I listened to my first grade grandson reading and I can't say that my level is higher. I have always been slow with languages, but the importance of Yiddish is too great. Every few days I sit with Rivkah Bassman and she is the last Yiddish poet i know. Maybe Yiddish will remain, but its poetry - what will happen to it?

And if youre wondering about my Arabic - I'm still on it. But slowly, much more slowly than I should be.


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