Tel Aviv Diary March 30, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel -Aviv Diary - March 30 - April 15, 2017 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

March 30, 2017

You haven't lived until you have heard Yitzhak Perlman conduct Brahms 3rd symphony. Last night was an amazing evening at the philharmonic and i cannot recommend it enough. the night before we celebrated birthdays at the Hotel Montifiore and even though the food was extremely well prepared i kept thinking that i would rather be doing something else. and last night was it. the only thing i can think of that might be better than that is dancing on the tables at Ninotchka. but that's for another occasion.

let's all boycott the news. now that the government takes it over. luckily there's an internet news channel. but maybe it's a good thing. Now we'll know exactly where the fake news is.

April 2, 2017

Rosh Pina: we stayed in a great place for kids but I couldn't get hooked up their internet so couldn't tell you about it. Day 1: 4 kids and 4 adults. We drove to Sahara - my favorite restaurant, near Afula. I controlled the kids hunger with promises all the way. And then. we noticed the parking lot was almost empty. It was closed for renovations. Probably to open next week for Passover.

Not a good beginning for a birthday weekend. We ate the food I brought for tomorrow's breakfast and went on our way. An hour later we arrived and surreptiously distributed chocolate sandwiches to the kids and then went to look for a place for dinner so when the other parents arrived with another child we'd be ready.

But we were having no luck. Every place we checked was either full or closed. We went back to check in on the kids who were whooping it up on the soccer field, then the trampoline, and finally, the pool. We finally called a place nearby called Rene, and I should have been very suspicious when they agreed to take 11 people on. But it was raining and the weather people promised the whole weekend would be wet and cold. I was desperate.

The food was, we all agreed, edible. Tomorrow would be another day.

The next morning we went off to the Hula Lake for a trip in a covered wagon that would disguise us from the birds and explain what we were looking at. It was, even for me, a total reward for the day before. There was no rain, the guide could find a bird in a haystack, and we saw incredible swans, storks, local birds, visiting birds, etc. My phone got so choked up it refused to photograph any of them, but who cared? All five kids from the finicky four year old to the sulky twelve year old were totally engaged and that was plenty for me. I loved hearing their questions, their curiousity, their excitement. I love the Hula in any form so this was a perfect place for me too.

Our trip continued to the Tanur (Inon falls), the falls that is only a falls after the rains and before the Jordanians siphon off the water for their consumption. We in the Middle East are water-thirsty and love to look at water in any form.

Before that we stopped to pay our respects to Trumpeldor and see the roaring lion memorial. It is becoming mouldy and yet shouldn't be forgotten.

The highlight of the trip was yet to come. Not only lunch at Beit Shalom with my old friend Rivkah who surprised us for dessert with a birthday cake, but Mercaz Canada. Bowling, ice skating, and what not at the end of the land - almost on the border of lebanon. Tell the children, Rivkah said, about the land we gave the Lebanese in exchange for peace, the land bought for us by Baron Rothschild, land that brought us no peace at all. We want them back. She told me this while we were at the entrance to her house listening to the Lebanese muezzin call to prayer. I am always shocked by how dangerous it is for her to live at the last house before what was called "The Good Fence," and how when i first came to visit her almost 40 years ago, she was full of optimism and hope about her apple orchards that are now gone.

Today the forecast was for rain rain rain, and we almost decided to just go home and forget travelling. We ate our breakfast under the dripping eaves of our porch and considered stopping at Ikea. But then we decided it to chance it and go to the nature preserve. What is there about the Hula preserve that drives me wild? I don't know. Some turtles, some catfish, ducks, and amazing birds birds birds. Herons, hawks, you name it.

April 3, 2017

Don't want to talk about the afternoon I spent at the dentists, not even the imaging machine she was so proud of, so I'll tell you we had lunch yesterday at the Dobrovin farm. And it was lovely - the atmosphere of fake quaintness was perfect for us and the roosters and the chickens and the flowers and the well. Not everything has to be real.

Because I was really hurting when I got home, I did not want to fiddle with our brand new fridge, but just wanted to escape - and watch "Homeland" to which I have long been addicted. It's like watching the news but it's better written. and just a little less scary.

April 4, 2017

Ever wake up with the feeling that something has gone terribly wrong while you were napping? My friend in the north has that all the time, even though there is a network of friends and authorities who will protect her should something happen, she's on panic pills. I would be on them too.

Gas has a special meaning to Jews who remember the holocaust. Syria today has gone way past the possibility of pardon, and somehow Russia is happy to help out killing children. There is no way to excuse the behavior of the US president in not condemning Syrian and Russian governments on this issue. I'm totally horrified by the US participation in this continuing mass murder.

April 5, 2017

So I told Ezi he has to invent big fans to blow chemical weapons back on to Syria. The ones he drops on kids, for example. It is imperative that this is not forgottten in the world. We have enough criminals leading the government. And if you ask me, Assad is uniting with Iran, and with Hizballah, and chemical weapons will be the least of our problems.

April 6, 2017

I spent a few hours in the vacation 'camps' of first grader and kindergarten grandchild. Total Tel Aviv chaos and yet total order. The kindergarten class was empty when I entered, and I had to look around for an adult who might know where they were. "You're Tamar's granddaughter?" A tiny woman approached me. "She's on the third floor at lunch." "Should I wait?" I started to ask, "Ah, no need." I answered myself, "She doesn't eat anyway." "Oh, that's what all the parents say," she answered me, "She eats fine around us!" Then she proceeded to give me all the details of my granddaughter's habits, her appearance, and her favorite expressions. In wonder and admiration I went up the two enormous flights of stairs to the dining room, where I found the children sitting in fours at small tables, conversing. The teacher immediately gave me a plate and offered me a chair. Shniztel and couscous and green beans. But before I could eat, the children decided they had enough and were going downstairs. So I took Tamar and her backpack and left for school. Tamar stayed in the car with Ezi as I went down the street and around the courtyard to the inside building and up the three flights to Omer's classroom. It was empty, but there were leftovers of.. schnitzel and cousous and green beans. I grabbed a schnitzel ans went down to look for him. There were various playgrounds and i went through the basketball court, the soccer court, the game court, and couldn't find him. There were no adults I could recognize as adults to ask. Later I realized they were short teachers, but in the hot sun i was confused and beginning to worry. Finally I found a tall guy and asked. He sent me over to the middle building, and then the kids brought me to the second floor classroom where there was a video lesson in the Beatles. By then I was ready to sit in the dark and listen for a while, but Omer was ready to go. So we went down and out and in and up to his classroom to pick up his stuff and then out to the car. Believe me I was out for the day after that.

And yet I was amazed at the calm and joy there was in both the kindergarten and the school. I remember only discipline and fear in first grade. A little comfort here and there and the amazement of recognizing the letters and their significance, but more than that discipline, discipline and the fear of green beans.

Rogel Alper today blamed Israelis for not acting against Syrian atrocities - but what can we do to prevent further crimes against humanity? This is not like the Bulgarians who didn't let the Germans kill their Jews. It's not like the others who enjoyed acting in the role of Nazis. Or those who knew what was happening and remained silent. We know we're next.

April 7, 2017

i don't know why i decided to go shopping on the days before the holidays. Friday noon and I had hadn't had lunch so the only thing i could see was food. "Why did you come so late?" the vendor asked as I asked to buy 'cigarim,' the Moroccan meat filled eggrolls. "next time get up earlier."

Everyone was buying everything - dishes, clothing, shoes. I had gone to buy toys for the grandchildren, but when i looked at all that wasted plastic I couldn't stomach the idea. Enough with the retail - it's a holiday!

April 8, 2017

A day of cooking, cleaning, resting. Since yesterday afternoon my heart has been in Syria and Stockholm. Going out was no alternative. I was unable to concentrate even on grandchildren. Every day seems to bring us deeper and deeper into the maelstrom.

And in spite of all that we are madly preparing for the holidays, for family, friends, and traveling.

April 9, 2017

Do you ever wonder why the Christian institutions sit back and allow the Copts to be slaughtered en masse without any intervention? Their situation in Arab countries is terrible, and the explosions today just emphasize the fact of their persecution. Today we were reading some Suras of the Koran and every other sentence curses the infidels. Is the destruction of infidels the goal? I am on my way to visit a very wonderful friend of mine who is a religious Moslem and I cannot see any of the hatred I read today in her.

Bought some cool gifts today for kids - distractions from the seder. My father's sister used to tell me that my mother was caught reading a novel behind the hagadah, but my mother denied she was anything but a dutiful pious child.

April 10, 2017

Tonight is the seder. We have been preparing for it by, in addition to the usual, reading the "Haggadat Hayovel." It came with "Haaretz" yesterday but we didn't notice until Muma called my attention to it. It is a moral, ethical commentary on the traditional haggadah, with particular attention to our responsibilities to our neighbors.

Our seder tonight will be a complex one with all kinds of in laws and exes. I'm not sure whether we'll be able to get in any soul searching .

April 11, 2017

After cleaning up from our afternoon tea party we decided to take a walk in the neighborhood, and it turned out to be as much a nature walk as any walk in the park - the dogs, the cats, the crickets, the peacocks, and to our surprise, the frogs, were all out. Peacocks as usual sleeping on the fence, their tails balancing their bodies as they rested. The frogs were discussing something obviously important all over the pond of filtered grey water by the ecological center. The family of black cats were clustered as usual by the white wall of a neighbor up the street. i counted 8 before they ran away at our approach. The walk was a perfect counter to a incredibly noisy seder.

April 12, 2017

Don't tell anyone but I think it is the general opinion that the story of Passover is fake news. It doesn't bother me because the principle is so good.

We are staying as close to home as possible this holiday because of the traffic. Why the government encourages travel is beyond me - I don't like sitting in seas of cars even though this is the best time of year to wander around some of the amazing historical sites. We'll go after the holidays. In the meantime we debated so long about how to get rid of pigeons on our window sills that we didn't do enough to prevent it and now we have a dove sitting on 2 eggs. What do you at this point? Everyone in Israel says we'll get lice and stink if we let it go on, but we know that the pigeons are on our sill because the crows are chasing them off the trees. the crows themselves are involved in a war with the foreigners, the invading parrots and the others. Do we let the refugees stay, just until these goslings fly off? Do we murder them all?

April 13, 2017

When I came home from a visit to Rivka Bassman I realized I had left a page of my manuscript there and thought maybe to go back and get it. It's a fifteen minute drive but something made me drag Ezi and go back there. When we got to her little cottage we discovered that the electricity was out. The fuses were fine but an inspection of the yard revealed a downed wire. What luck that we came back. But we went home before the electric company came. I'm on edge waiting to hear from her.


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