Tel Aviv Diary - December 20-24, 2014 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 20-24, 2014

I just don't get it. I don't get Jews in the U.S. I don't know what their real relationship to religion is. I'm at the Gann Academy, a Jewish High School outside of Boston, and there is an golden calf in the hall way.

Of course I immediately bonded with it.

It seems so right for the way religion is treated here. Everything seems skewed and all the values of Judaism appear to have have been forgotten. Of course I am drawing conclusions from insufficient data, but the lack of understanding concerning basic words of Hebrew (mispellings sometimes in concrete).

Of course my heart is not here so i'm not objective. And who am I to talk about religion? Where do I live if not in Philistine?

December 21, 2014

I was extolling the virtues of living in Tel Aviv today to Sharon Dery, who doesn't need much encouraging to long for Tel Aviv. And as I was explaining to her about my kids who live in Ramat Aviv and excel in everything academic and athletic, and my kids who live in Tel Aviv and excel in ... yoga, i realized once again how every little corner of the world has its own little world. every little community has its own version of success, of religion, of love. What can I say with any certainty is what was religion is about?

Anyway that what i was thinking a few days ago when i saw Haitam Khalily, who almost won the title of best singer in the Arab world, singing about Palestine. Who am I to say that his emotions are misplaced in any way? Today, when I read Mira Awad's description of it, and how he might be jailed by us for declaring himself a Palestinian, I was overwhelmed. You may remember that when we did a student anthology called "Here" in English "Po" in Hebrew and "Huna" in Arabic the idea was that "here" is different for different individuals.

So every place is different and even the same place is different. So how can we judge...

December 23, 2014

My cousin Alan made sure we got to the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst yesterday. I had my knickers in a twist because I had to photograph the grave of Emily Dickinson and made that my first priority. I was exhausted by the time we were finished but Alan was insistent that we couldn't pass this up. we had been there before with him, but it was closed. this time i got to see the vaults, the tons of books. it was overwhelming, but at night when i thought about it i got so depressed. i thought of all these books that will never be read. it reminded me of Samuel Johnson's "The Life of Shenstone." "He learned to read of an old dame, whom his poem of The School-mistress has delivered to posterity; and soon received such delight from books that he was always calling for fresh entertainment, and expected that when any of the family went to market a new book should be brought him, which when it came was in fondness carried to bed and laid by him. It is said that when his request had been neglected, his mother wrapped up a piece of wood of the same form, and pacified him for the night. "

December 24, 2014

We're in an empty hotel - everyone is celebrating christmas and we are surrounded by christmas music and decorations, and it is not good. Fortunately we had a room of our own in a japanese restaurant that had foor to die for FuGaKyu

December 24, 2014

Humbug. I have no justification for saying that. But who could not feel strange in a country that talks only about presents and sales on the most important holiday of the year. Who can not care about the overwhelming 'christmas spirit' that leaves no alternative open.Luckily we're flying tomorrow down south. Let you know how New Orleans is.

Bethlehem seems so far away from here, and yet close to me year.

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