Tel Aviv Diary - December 22-6, 2011 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 22, 2011

So we're spying on students now? Haaretz uncovered a request to lecturers by the University Security head to identify the students in a video who were planning to take over the library for a demonstration. Oooh. That hurts. I mean I looked everywhere in my mail and I NEVER got a request like that. Does that mean I've been left out? All I have is a letter from the President saying he believes in freedom and never knew about this request.

I watch the news and all I can think of is The Merry Minuet. And a pizza. I need a Pappa's Pizza. And I'm going to have one. Now. If the world ends tomorrow, I will at least have had the best pizza ever.

December 23, 2011

The storm was predicted for Friday night, and I was so relieved it didn't come, I wore party clothes to a celebration. But these big hangars with their high ceilings and open spaces are not really conducive to low cut sleeveless dresses, and now I'm all chilly.

I've never really understood the atmosphere of these places - Once you get in the place is gorgeous - "Avigdor" is brand new and very professional - with a gorgeous coat check girl, all the equipment, strobe lights and pro managers. But the short walk from the parking lot takes you through a single block where we disturbed at least 10 cats at their frog garbage dinners. Eek! A usual Friday night for many people around here, and I love the food and the people I was with, but I kind of prefer a few people in a living room talking intimately.

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas. We're watching the mass from Nazareth live on tv. As we were driving home from a wonderful party I thought of stopping by - I think it was the Sheraton hotel - where the big Christmas party of Russian Oligarths is going on. I can't even remember how much entrance costs but it was something way beyond our means, or interest, and was supposed to be crowned by a visit from St. Nick at midnight.It is strange because in the first years I lived here, I didn't even know when Christmas was, much less feel a celebration. Now it's all over.

Although the party we went to tonight included lighting the hanukah candles and prayers, the fact that menorahs have appeared all over our neighborhood - not from the municipality but apparently from religious organizations - has dampened my enthusiasm for the holidays. Suddenly I feel that even this holiday of freedom is no longer free. All of this makes it more and more difficult for me to separate religion per se from the extremists. As if they have taken over Judaism. And now I have to struggle to reclaim my identity. I never celebrated Christmas even when I was living in a place where it was celebrated all around me, and I will not celebrate any holiday if it is foisted on me.

December 25,2011

But I would be afraid to go into a neighborhood of extremists even if I were dressed modestly. Many many years ago I went to Mea Shaarim, totally unaware of the rules, and was accepted with great understanding. Even though I was asked to cover my arms, I didn't have anything to cover them with and they just let it go. Now I'd probably be stoned and spat upon.

December 26, 2011

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