Tel Aviv Diary - December 23-7, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - December 23, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

December 23, 2013

Tonight there is a program on tv about how private hospitals have become the preferred system for references from health clinics. Last week I sat with a close friend who works for our health clinic and we tried to get Ezi referred for his next PET scan to Ichilov hospital. He has been getting PET scans at Ichilov every 3 months for the past 6 years, but in the last months the computers keep trying to refer him to the private hospital, Assuta. She insisted, the computer kept refusing, but finally she managed to get it approved. It took her almost twenty minutes, and she only continued to insist because I am her friend. "There's a deal," all the workers comforted us, "and it's bringing in lots of money to both Ichilov and Maccabi." There is so much to be cleaned up in the health system, but I believe in the professionals - the doctors and nurses.

December 24, 2013

Yesterday and today i made purchases at a local shop and paid by check. Yesterday I didn't notice that they didn't give me a receipt, but today again the total was figured up on a little calculator and didn't go into the register. The only reason I paid by check was that they asked me to because it was a special sale, but only now I realize I was conspiring to fool the income tax people. Would I turn them in, the scatter-brained little Spanish ladies who run the shop like a pantry? If I believed that income tax was fair I would still warn them first. But the crime is not worth my going back all that way unless I have something else to do in the same place...right? Oh the petty ethical questions that trouble my mind.

Merry Christmas!

Here's a confession - the first time I ever heard that phrase I was about 8 or 9 and spent a few months in a hospital that included the holidays. I had a room of my own with a window to the hall that was decorated with a wreathe and "Merry Christmas." I had to read it backwards and couldn't figure out what it was. My mother explained that it was a call to my nurse, Mary. "But what is Christmas?" "Kratch mich" ("Scratch me"). It took me another couple years before I got to public school in fifth grade to understand exactly what everyone was so excited about. Even though I'd sat on Santa's lap at a department store, and thrilled at the displays and decorations. No-one told me it was about a new beginning, a new era, and the hope for a better world.

My mother wasn't an racist, by the way. It was just that Christmas always stirred up anti-semitic activity in the town where she came from - Lida. I know parodies of Carols that still bring a smile to my lips. This was a way to keep sane from the pogroms. Somehow her unwillingness to acknowledge the existence of Christmas (except to send me over the neighbors' with chocolate - which I ate) did not sit right with "and man will live for evermore because of Christmas day."

December 25, 2013

Here's a poem of mine about Arik Einstein that was in today's Haaretz . Readers familiar with my work will recognize the photographer...

There is also on this site a link to a skit of Arik Einstein and Uri Zohar in which every group curses the next group of immigrants. Here it is with English subtitles:

The Arabs looking at the Russian Zionists curse them with "Inal din babour eili jabhom," "Curse the boat that brought them here," and every generation uses the same curse against the next. Vivian Eden, who incorporated the skit into the piece about my poem, has got it soooo right.

December 26, 2013

Ari Shavit warns us to realize that the rockets and other troubles in the past few weeks are attempts to stop peace talks: Haaretz. It's a sane evaluation, but who reads Haaretz?

December 27, 2013

It's kind of interesting to be one with celebs. We had lunch today at Pastel (the new place next to the museum) with a semi-celeb who kept getting his picture taken and there were a whole bunch of more celeb-celebs in the place. Like on the tv all the time. And they get treated just a bit differently. We even got a complementary dessert. Food was okay (the weiner shnitzel was a bit dry) but expensive and the celeb thing was so much more interesting.

Here's a bit of the rehearsal for the big show at Tmuna tomorrow night:

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