Tel Aviv Diary July 18-22, 2020 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - July 18, 2020 Karen Alkalay-Gut

July 18, 2020

Once again I am reminded of the story of my grandparents: My grandfather was heard in the middle of the night, calling to his wife "Haikeyle, Haikeyle, wake up wake up! Something's wrong with me!" "S'iz mir nisht gut" And she answered, "Yossl, Yossl, sleep, sleep. Something's wrong with everyone!" (It's so much better in Yiddish). And so, we are all "nisht gut," "not well." So, I assert, it is up to all of us to do whatever we can to ameliorate the situation. I keep reminding myself to "be kind," even when i'm angry with people - even with a government that is frozen in fear and lashing out wherever it can. I can't imagine how we'll get through this unless we can get ourselves together. Maybe it's true that we have to get rid of the divisive governments in the world before we can come together as a people of the universe to solve this, but we have to keep that goal in mind - that our survival depends on unity.

Yeah, but in the meantime, what are we going to watch on television? I can't really read properly. Can you? it's only on the web that i can focus, and focus only on where my links lead.

I found this piece on the web pages of the Forward - i remember it from a film on Avraham Sutzkever that glued me to the chair. On poetry and the Holocaust

July 19, 2020

It's nice to think of in times like this - that poetry got Sutzkever through the war. Poetry might get me through this little plague we're having. The news of the day is that it is advised for us to just stay home. Tomorrow is my grandson's birthday and I'm not sure we're going to be able to actually give him the photo album we've made for him. of course the computer all the grandparents bought together will be delivered. but the lack of contact is hard to swallow.

July 20, 2020

After a little socially distant birthday party, we visited with my sister-in-law - at a distance - when we suddenly realized we were missing "Teheran" on tv. There was a flash of regret and then a terrible fear - that we have become totally accustomed to our isolation, we have forgotten how to leave our home.

we are definitely becoming far too accustomed. we passed a demonstration and didn't even ask what it was about. we skipped the news tonight so we won't be confused.

And the strike that we ignored? the nurses. the same nurses who kept me safe two months ago when i was hospitalized, they were striking because of pitifully low wages and dangerous work conditions. And I didn't notice them.

July 21, 2020

Because I sold the chairs in our living room we went to south Tel Aviv to buy new chairs. We want to buy local products and started in an empty shop where we were checked for temperature, given hand sanitizer and greeted with a very anxious, masked salesman. Everything in the store was on sale, and we were accompanied as we examined every chair, but there was little that appealed to us - the colors, the fabric, the shape - nothing worked. And we left a very disappointed crew, hanging on by a thread. The second store was no more appealing - even though the few salespeople were constantly occupied with customers in a very large showroom. One chair seemed interesting to me and finally i got to ask someone about it - imported from Poland. But I need two and they only had one, and anyway, I wasn't prepared to go over the price that i had sold our old chairs. The whole shop seemed pretentious and artificial and we went home with nothing to sit on.

And while our local shops are breathing their last, our government continues to quibble and vascillate. i don't want to kvetch about all the people who have lost their livelihoods, but also their self-respect, even their identities, and every time I leave the house, I feel it - even from far away, even through the masks. The right to a livelihood is basic.

Ju;y 22, 2020

Remember how Gertrude Stein told Ernest Hemingway, "You are all a lost generation"? Well that's what we have. certainly in this country, yesyes the high tech people and the other guys who are working are making a fortune during these internet days, but so many others - especially between the ages of 18-60 - have no future. The enormous demonstrations won't bring back their lost lives - but it may get them enough money to fill their empty refrigerators.

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