Tel Aviv Diary - August 6-10, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - August 6-10, 2010 Karen Alkalay-Gut

August 6-10, 2010

August 6, 2010

I would never be a good travel writer - I'm so worried about preserving the privacy of my friends I rarely write about them. And most of the time the really interesting things happen with them. Sometimes they do read these pages and wonder why I didn't mention the exciting trip we took together, or the wonderful visit, others complain about my accuracy in describing the vague details. And sometimes, rarely, they write in and ask me to take OUT whatever I wrote about them. And after all, I live among friends, family, neighbors, students, even enemies. So this winds up being neither a confessional nor a political, social blog, but something in between.

Sometimes I almost platz because I really want to write all my stories, and this is certainly a place to gather stories because we're at a kind of cultural crossroads, but it really isn't right.

So today we were in Tira, visiting the Shibi family, and enjoying it immensely, and I realized there are a number of people I've visited in many different places in Israel, and I have told you nothing. And Tira is probably the most written about town in Israel because Sayyed Kashua comes from there, so why can't I say something about it too? He even writes about his parents and his children, so shouldn't I be able to tell you about the lamb and grape leaves and all that? And yet, I feel a sense of proprietry. The fact that my friends should not be tools for my narratives. So if you want to know the real Israel you'll have to come here and see for yourselves.

August 7, 2010

After all that privacy nonsense, I must admit I cannot resist sharing my grief. Sefi Goldenberg, passed away last night. Yaniv says that the righteous die on Friday, but I can't use that traditional word for such an individualist as my brother-in-law, who in his 76 years, accomplished many things, created many buildings, and helped many people, but would have laughed me to tears if I called him 'righteous.' His long suffering has ended but we will all miss him terribly. He is the one who quoted his immigrant father in Yiddish whenever we spoke of Zionism. Loosely translated, it goes: For five thousand years the Jews have been longing for Zion...and then it had to happen dafka in MY times. (finf touzand yahr hob'n di yidden gebenkt noch Tzion...und punct mir hot es getroffen.)

August 7, 2010

Past midnight. A sick child here, a bereavement visit there, and the day is done.

At least the heat wave has broken and the weather seems almost normal.

August 8, 2010

This is a video that has been circulating a bit around the world.

It has so much in it that I like, about the uneven judgement of Israel, so I have to show it to you. But when it comes to the part about the antisemitism and blam, I get very uncomfortable.

August 9, 2010

Have I complained before about funerals in Israel? How barren the cemeteries, how unfeeling the burial. There is a moment that particularly upsets me, the little twitch of the hands when the pallbearer hitches up the stretcher to slide the shrouded body into the grave...Anyway, Sefi's funeral was as close to a decent one you can get in Israel. Kibbutz Horshim, grassy and peaceful, with space to stand around the grave, and the freedom to conduct a ceremony to the needs of the individual, provided the appropriate dignity for such a great man.

August 10, 2010

Ramadan Kareem and Mubarak! Can you imagine being a construction worker in this heat without drinking all day?

On the way to the shiva this afternoon some girl behind us didn't notice that we stopped at a red light and rammed into us from behind. This rendered me totally useless for the rest of the day and I hope that's all, except for the fender and the lights. Now that I think of it, I've actually had three rear-endings within blocks of the same place, within meters of Habima. Too many cars in too small a place. Even though it's August and I thought everyone would be abroad.

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