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

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

December 18, 2009

December 18, 2009

The incredible rain lasted less than forty hours and a minute before Shabbat the sun was shining again. We had a double birthday party to celebrate at Pappa's so even though the wind surfers were flying all over the sea shore, we couldn't stop to watch.

And there they were when we walked in, some of the greatest creators of Israeli rock, waiting with glasses of champagne for a toast. And what was our first item of discussion after we settled down - the theft of the sign over Auschwitz.

Ironic as we were, and full of jokes, there was not a single individual who was not overwhelmed by the vandalism of the ironic brutalism the sign represented. It is as if someone is trying to erase the history of the torture of my aunts, my uncle, to turn a terrible truth into a 'narrative.'

December 19, 2009

One of my dearest friends has been working for years on proving that the linguistic source of Yiddish is not German but Khazar. This is to prove that Jews are not from here but somewhere else. It may work. But he still lives here and will probably die down the street from me. That is, he may see a theoretical negation of the 'narrative' we live, but we still live here. And I'm going off this morning to see some more of Tel Aviv, to kiss the ground as it were.

The sun urged us to come outside, and Alicia and Jerry Ostriker joined us at the port at Yaffo.

There may be much that is new at the port, but somehow I concentrated on the old. When I suddenly overheard Ezi explaining to Jerry that his grandfather had built the hangars whose decrepit state I was admiring, I was thrilled. I knew it must have been around the early thirties, but considered it only in terms of the personal history of Ezi's grandfather, Arpad Gut. Ezi photographed them:

Then we spotted an old boat in the parking lot

Where is that from? When was it built? I walked around the boat and found a group of old Arab men. "Sit down, have a cup of tea, let's have your phone number," says one. "Don't give him your number," warns another, "He's untrustworthy." "Well," I say, "My husband's over there, he'll take care of me" - I take the tea and sit down. "Whose boat is this?" I ask. "My grandfather built it," says the guy in the yellow sweater. "Wow," I respond, "And my husband's grandfather built that hangar." "Can't be, they were built by the British." "Yes, he was working for them." A muttering of Arabic I cannot catch, and do not want to respond to.

I'm having too much fun.

They want to know what I do, and I begin to explain, but then Ezi comes to pick me up and I know he will not be too excited about talking to strange oldtimers, so I promise to come back in a few weeks for more tea, at their repeated invitation.

More another day

December 20, 2009

Last night, the last night of Hannuka, we celebrated the arrival of a wonderful light. When I was a little girl we used to pray at the kippele shul in Rochester. It was called the kippele because it was next to a big synagogue with a big dome, a kippa. And this was the diminuitive synagogue. I studied, together with my brother, with the Rabbi, Gedaliah Cohen. And while he concentrated on the important things, I looked at the details, the fixtures, the walls, the tops of the heads of the people praying. So when Bob Chait offered to send me the light fixture I was thrilled. And yesterday it arrived.

But since no one else remembers this, our celebration was small.

December 21, 2009

The lamp is ceramic, and I remember there were a number of them.

While we wait to see if Gilad Shalit will be "traded" we entertain some tourists from the mid-west. Who is "Gilad Shalit?" they ask. "What did he do to get captured?" "If he wasn't in Gaza but on Israeli land why did they capture him?" "How did they capture him while he was sleeping? Isn't that unethical?" "Why haven't they let the Red Cross see him?" "Why have there been no communications with him?" "Who are the prisoners they are trading him for?" Their simple questions remind me how we have ignored the total outrage of his capture in order to get him back.

December 22, 2009

Tonight is no good - The whole Shalit thing is postponed until after Christmas.

Strange how I almost forgot Christmas - even though it was just announced a house was discovered from the time of Jesus. In Nazareth.

So Merry Christmas to All

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