Tel Aviv Diary January 10, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - January 10-19, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 10, 2017

my kids managed to get a stone from Dizengoff square as it was being destroyed yesterday. it was a pretty momentous occasion for the city. and if they build a new center square for Tel Aviv it may be outstanding. The middle of the bubble. what an amazing place to meet. "see you in the center ten minutes after the afternoon muezzin!" the first mayor, Meir Dizengoff you know was careful to put his name (and in the case of the center, in his wife's name) everywhere - the street, the museum, the park. And we've never objected - he gave the color to the park.

January 11, 2017

I read a poem in Hebrew last night. It was near the end of a very long literary evening and everyone wanted to go home. My back today is totally out of shape after sitting on those chairs for well over 3 hours. But the poem I read was about my aunt. It was published a few years ago in English in the Prairie Schooner, and it was translated a few years ago but i didn't know what to do with it until I sent it to Gag, a literary rag, at the request of the editor. When he asked me to read, i thought it would be a downer for a literary evening, but decided to try it anyway to see what kind of response I'd get. Here it is:

Her Story

I have never been able to tell her story
Sometimes it escapes me, sometimes I am not sure
It could really have happened, sometimes I read
` Different accounts of her demise, or a paragraph
From some testimony jogs my memory and the terrible days
When I first heard what happened to her return.

This much is in my blood:
I was conceived on the day she died.
This much is in my blood.
She blew up trains.
The courage came from her uplifted chin
And the two infants she watched
Dashed against the wall of their home.
Avram twelve months old and Masha two years.
My first cousins.
They too - in my blood – all that is left.

If I can write of these babies,
I can manage the rest –
Following her path as she escaped
The prison camp with her husband
And joined the Otrianski Otriade
Lenin Brigade, Lipinskaya Forest.

I can feel her mouth, her narrow lips clamped
As she bends over the delicate mines,
She sat for with the rest of the choir
Unsmiling amid the festive singers
Unwilling perhaps to feel poetic joy
Perhaps destined for so much more.

There are at least three accounts of her death:
Not piercing me as always with his tragic eyes,
And I knew there was more he would not say.

Another book says she lagged behind the platoon
Escaping an attack, perhaps pregnant,
And was imprisoned in Zhedtl.
The jail was ignited, perhaps by accident,
And she was just one of the victims.

When Mother first told me the story
She had just heard at the hairdresser’s,
I was only a child, and outraged
That she was weeping, tears
Rolling down her face. She knew
All I cared for was my own life,
And her latest discovery
Of the fate of her youngest sister
A disruption.
But who else could she tell?

The loft in the barn, she said,
They were hiding there – three women,
Her husband and her. They came
And set the barn afire. He helped
The women first, and his wife came last
But didn’t come, was burnt alive.

Malcah Malcah who saved all our lives
Malcah who was waiting for them
When the ship brought them back to Danzig
After they were barred from the Holy Land,
Who found them the agricultural visas to England
And saw them off the night that Hitler invaded.

But there is no real story.
All that remains is a faded snapshot
A few sentences in unread memorial tomes,
And me, who cannot tell any story for sure.

January 12, 2017

TI swim class at the end of a long day. One conclusion from the long day - both kindergarten and elementary school classes are overcrowded and don't have enough staff. I was pretty overwhelmed by the noise and the lousy food. One of my childhood traumas was the first grade food i had as a child - food i absolutely couldn't eat, but we were forced to finish. i remember choking a lot of overcooked vegetables down because I was afraid of the teacher, who checked our plates. Now I see what could be worse - a child skipping the main meal of the day without anyone noticing or caring.

January 13, 2017

Hanging around the house? Get it on Amazon kindle: here

January 14, 2017

"In Between" the movie is titled in English. "Not here and not there" in Hebrew, and in Arabic "Bar Bechar." (Land/Sea) It's about three Arab girls living in Tel Aviv and they don't belong in their villages and neighborhoods and don't fit into the major culture in Tel Aviv. It is a "must-see." It is already in the film festivals abroad. Go see it. (although it is - to a tel aviv resident - a bit outdated. Shesek, the bar they mention belonged to my son years ago. it was closed about 4 years ago, just in time, because the building fell apart. I am probably the only person in the world who would notice this.)

January 25, 2017

This film is really causing waves. Sayyed Kashua wrote a bit on it the other day and now he's added an apology for 'understanding' the Muslim extremists who are protesting this film. The director has been villified and threatened over and again.

And it doesn't leave my mind.

January 17, 2017

kvetch kvetch kvetch. where would i be without the release of kvetching? I'm not even going into the rampant government corruption which could take all my afternoon. Let's begin with construction in Tel Aviv. The municipality once couldn't make big changes without getting approval of the neighbors, but ever since they started building the light rail they do whatever they feel like. I'm not even going to mention the land shares at the Tel Aviv Port which were taken over with no compensation. Or the school that's being put up in a neighborhood with no knowledge of the inhabitants. My own street is being torn up now - last month we were notified something was going to be done, but we still have no idea what the plans are and/or why a lovely street is being demolished.

Okay, I'll give you some analysis about the Bibi scandal. Everyone is focusing on the gifts Bibi received. I think that isn't important. what is important is what he gave back for those gifts.

The photographs Ezi's father took with his best friend David Mosensohn in 1925 are presented nicely and compactly by Haifa University at this site.

January 18, 2017

i don't know how i can call my home my own. when the Bedouin who were brought to a piece of land in 1956 and told that it was their own (by the government) have today been thrown out of their homes to create a Jewish town in its place. A man was killed today in the Bedouin demonstrations today - they were defending their homes and killed a policeman. that in itself is terrible, but the explanation - that these were terrorists and the killer is connected to ISIS - is worse. I don't believe it for a minute. And not to believe in the chief of police is a terrible thing.

Maybe I'm wrong. But I can't even begin to have faith in that story.

January 19, 2017

It was a pretty miserable day. i was so tired after a cleaning morning and a babysitting afternoon that i not only messed up a lecture in Beit Leyvick on Yisrael Emiot but I couldn't make it half way through a swimming class in the evening.

Fortunately I missed the news.


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