Tel Aviv Diary January 22-26 2019 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary January 27-31, 2019

Karen Alkalay-Gut

January 27-31, 2019

January 27, 2019

For International Memorial Day


My grandmother was made into soap.
It was clear she was too weak to work
so the doctors took her to the infirmary
then rendered her into something useful.

She wasn’t fat. From what her daughters said
she was nearsighted, shy, bookish,
a fastidious housekeeper
with an infection in her kidneys.

Her daughters tried to cover for her,
to do her work as well as their own,
but the Guards could tell, took her off
for a typical lethal injection.

Sometimes an image of her comes into my mind
(although I have never even seen a photograph)
bending over a newspaper close to a candle
using well every moment of light.

January 28, 2019

Another day spent with filling out papers for the Israel Association of Writers in English. I'm praying that I'll be able to straighten out the mess of the past 4 years with the government and we'll be back in hard business.

And it seems to be going well. The lawyer ratified the papers i will mail tomorrow. I will deposit the dues tomorrow. and the journal goes to the printer this week. for me, the tension of officialdom is so difficult i was happy to go to see Galia Hai's baby after that, to touch something real.

Clearly i need a dog to hang on to when things get tough - i can't visit babies every day.

January 29, 2019

Everything went in the mail today. i stood in the post office and started smiling as soon as the clerk accepted my papers. six months work to reconstruct the debts of the IAWE and it's all over - we can begin again. This time with energy, a speakers' bureau, a friends organization, etc. anyone want to join the friends of the Israel Association of Writers in English?

so i celebrated by testing the strength of my knees so i can return to the group of the "Israel Trail" and start hiking again. I walked 6 kilometers and guess what. My knees hurt. My neck hurts. I suddenly remembered how exhausted i felt on the hikes. But then, there wasn't the amazing views and the lessons in history that went along with them.

January 30, 2019

At noon we set out to Tel Aviv to pick up the kiddies from school. it is now 11 p.m. and we have arrived home. what happened in between can only be explained when i am awake. tomorrow.

January 31, 2019

To explain about what i promised you yesterday: We picked up the kids for lunch, with the idea that we would take them to the museum to see the closing of the exhibit of the modern art collection from the Philadelphia museum. As we walked through the square that is surrounded by the opera, the theater, the museum, and the courts, we saw hundreds of police in small groups being instructed. They all looked likev fine, upstanding men, and they seemed calm and gentle. We explained to the children that there was to be a demonstration of the Ethiopian community protesting police discrimination against them. "So many motorcycles!" said the eight year old, whose greatest joy is to ride behind his father on their scooter.

When we came out of lunch at "Hadar HaOchel" (which was, incidentally, wonderful) we raced to the museum so we could wait in line for the exhibit and see it before the five o'clock jui-jitsu lesson. But it was hard to see with all the crowds. The children managed to see more because they were below the line of vision of the average viewer, still we were in a hurry. We left at 3:30, just to make sure. the sun was shining and the officers were still chatting.

When we drove out of the parking grounds we realized we were in trouble. There was no way to turn, as if we had fallen into a mud slide. we were swept along, and soon found ourselves in Ramat Gan, with no chance of returning to the city. All our escape routes were cordoned off. It began to occur to us that not only was the 5 o'clock deadline lost to us, but dinner itself was in danger. Ezi, with his four-wheel drive, managed to turn us to Ramat Aviv - Over the sidewalks and through the diamond exchange to Grandmother's house we go...

Okay, so dinner was grilled cheese and television - watching the progress of the demonstration - but we got the children home safe and sound, still supporting both the demonstrators and the police who managed to prevent violence.

but as we were returning to our home we heard that stones were being thrown, that people were being injured, arrested, and some people were out of control. Still it wasn't the main message of the evening. The main message was that we are learning how to live together - slowly but i hope surely.

Let us hope that we are learning how to allow freedom of speech without fear of danger and without interrupting the lives of thousands of others who were just wanting to go home.

i could barely function all day.

January 31, 2019

I may have been the only person my age who didn't know about "Hakufsa," (The Box) but when a friend suggested we meet there last night, i had to ask where it was. it turned out to be next door to a shoe shop i'd been to the day before, that I've passed the place about four times this month, and it is so grungy-looking from the outside i was sure it was a deserted storehouse. Inside it looks like a bar out of the fifties. And the customers looked like they'd been there since it was first designed. a bunch of guys who declared they meet monthly were declaring their age, a few elderly couples in the booths on the side, a waiter-host-owner who could see immediately that I was someone he could joke with.

we picked a corner table far back so the four of us could talk, ordered all kinds of food, and then two ageing musician walked in - with equipment - and a karaoke repertoire of Israeli songs from long ago.

We left the time warp happy and pleased that thirty years had been taken off our lives.

Afterward we were told that this was a known pick-up place.

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