Tel Aviv Diary - June 18-22, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - June 23-27, 2010 Karen Alkalay-Gut

June 23, 2010

Wedding tonight. Amazing how with so few people here, so many get married. All the time.

What do we give? The price agreed upon is usually 500 shekel. But there is a scale - more for relatives, less for strangers, etc. More if there is food, less if it is in the afternoon. There is even a website that calculates your check for you.

I must remember to put earplugs in my bag.

Forgot my earplugs but the wedding was breathtaking and the music localized so we could hear each other and carry on a conversation.

More important the place was Sdot Yam, which will always be in the hearts of Israelis for the song Hanna Senesh wrote there: My God, My God, may it never end,/the sea and the sand/whisper of water/flash of sky/human prayer.

June 24, 2010

The Diaspora Museum hosted Ezi's family reunion this afternoon - last time I looked there were over 500 people in his mother's mother's family. Since 1890 they have been here, through good and bad times. None of them were murdered or died in wars.

Me I talked about my mother-in-law, who completed her doctorate in 1934 at the University in Berlin. It had never occurred to me before that she was completing her research on Gestalt psychology under Kurt Lewin when Lewin and his colleagues were fleeing Germany. And her models to prove that meaning is important to memory were Hebrew letters, words, and sentences.

June 25, 2010

Tiberias? Tell me about it. Because the internet here costs almost 5 buck for half an hour and altnerative routes are blocked, here at the holiday Inn, Im stuck. Here in Tiberias everything seems blocked. The beaches are all barb-wired off and even when theyre available to you the hours are carefully regulated. Here at the hotel for example the beach closes at 5. Three hours of sunlight left and nothing else to do around here, and the beaches are closed. So is the spa. Im booked for a mud bath there on Sunday but dont have much hopes for it. And you must all know how I revel in mud baths.

But there has been much to enjoy nevertheless. The water of the Sea of Galillee, despite the drought and the receding shoreline, is amazing and the weather is wonderful Our lunch at the Sahara on the way between Afula and Dovrat was perfect. I even called ahead to make sure they had room for us, but the place is so big it turned out there was no need. We steered away from regular fare and had baked lamb, and baby chickens, and other things that may be off usual kebab and falafel route. We arrived at the hotel in seventh heaven, but the smell of a cat in heat in the hallway, and a faint odor of urine in the room, although soon washed out by a strong air conditioner, dampened my spirits.

June 26, 2010

Saturday night is a different story - the old town wakes up and Tiberias comes alive. The cheap jewelry, the shiny scarves, the whole shtik gets sold on the walkway to the sea and maybe nobody's buying but everyone is fingering and bargaining. The seaside restaurants are all filled and whole families are out, riding ponies, baby tractors, breathing in the relatively fresh air. And what families. Not counting the occasional troup of tourists here and there, the majority of the population is incredibly mixed - from very religious Jewish families, to Druze and Arab families, to simple ethnically unidentifiable clusters of people. Even we were there, sitting on the benches, eating ice cream, and commenting on the pleasant weather.

June 27, 2010

As we drove home we discussed the situation of religion in this country. Aryeh Deri was talking on the radio of how they are going to set up more schools for religious Sephardic girls and not reacting to the radio announcer who was trying to point out that this was a development of a society of racism. "The Temple will never be rebuit with all these differences!" Ezi said, "We'll never find a place to come together!" "Yes we will," I responded as we reached the south of Netanya, "Here. Ikea." And, although I had vowed to boycott the store until the Swedes stopped boycotting us, we stopped and filled up our car with all manner of household goods. Once again we were among all the nations of the world. I counted languages - French, English, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish. Everyone buying the same sheets, and no one speaking to the other.

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