Tel Aviv Diary March 8-12, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - March 8, 2008

I had hoped to go to Rochelle's for her birthday lunch today, stopping only to see the latest at the Haifa Art Museum, but Ezi's flu and upcoming business trip have made us cancel our plans, so I was thrilled to receive a preview of the museum's new site: here. It's not as good as seeing it, but good enough to make me really try to get to the event on Wednesday, and we know I stay home as much as possible.

Not a word from our prime minister. A tragedy so great I have avoided the news all day, wandering from room to room, thinking only of students listening to a lecture suddenly overwhelmed with gunfire. We watched "No country for old men," whose great win at the Oscars proves the pessimism of all of Hollywood not just the Coen Brothers. Now we are looking for a romantic comedy from the fifties. They may have been wrong in their evaluation of the world, but that's all I can bear right now.

You know what? If it weren't for your letters i wouldn't write at all.

March 9, 2008

Fortunately there is such a thing as morning. Both my computers are still at their respective shops, yahoo's website consistently loses all my statistics so I never know if anyone is reading this, and i wound up cancelling all the wonderful things I wanted to do yesterday. But as Scarlet would say, tomorrow is another day. And today is tomorrow. I have some clothes to donate to the refugees from Darfur, and some money to spent on Sderot residents. So I will go off to the port and see what kind of art is coming out of Sderot in these terrible times, and maybe make some art myself.

(later that day)I never got to the hangar where the Sderot shopkeepers were peddling their wares. I only got to comme-il-faut when i got a call from the old-computer guy that my computer would be returned at 3. So i had to cut my outing. It was such a out-of-this-world outing anyhow. On my way to lunch i stopped at the comme-il-faut boutique where a particularly pretentious saleswoman who couldn't be bothered with lowly customers made an effort for me and my friend. We deserved it - just before we called her, a number of pairs of women walked in, saw the prices, said something about the shame of it and walked out. I would have liked to pair that experience with that of the Sderot shopkeepers, but as i said, the old-computer repairman promised to return my computer and I've been without one for so long i was desperate. All our fears, the wars, the failing stocks, nothing mattered.

The first thing the computer showed me when i turned it on was a blue screen.

March 10, 2008

I am writing this on my repaired computer. It took 8 days discover the power course had to be replaced. Fortunately, however, I found myself right next to Dorin Frankfurt who was having a big sale and i bought myself right out of being angry at the computer. My shopping was also spurred on by the discussions on the radio about a projected recession and a sudden reluctance to enter the shopping center, a sudden memory flashback of the fear of terrorists. I seem to be sort of a very obstinate person, and it isn't cheap. (Incidentally, I got about 5 times better value in Dorin Frankfurt than Comme-il-Faut.)

Trivia is so much fun - and to top off the evening i am not going to see the program about the 'Rav Center Yeshiva on Television, or about the kid who just discovered he lost his leg in last month's bombing in Sderot, or about the polgat factory going bankrupt. instead i'll find an escapist program about surviving on a deserted island...

Actually instead of looking for an escapist tv show, I read Gershon Baskin and sighed. He's right. We COULD find a way to make peace.

March 11, 2008

We seem to be in a drought and since people my age have lived through many droughts, here are some of our old ways of saving water: My ex-mother-in-law taught me always to fill the kettle by measuring out the cups to be drunk. She also taught me to turn off the water when i soap dishes. But the best way to save water in the home is to bathe in pairs.

So much for environmental issues for the day.

And now to politics. I used to agree when the efficiency experts at the university would evaluate literature departments and say there is no applied value to these studies. But lately I've come to understand that most of our troubles around here are connected with literary interpretation. How you interpret the Koran, how you interpret the Bible, all makes a big difference in who you kill the next day. I've been on tenterhooks waiting for some call for revenge to come out of the murder of the Yeshiva boys. I always thought it was God who makes the decision about who shall live and all that, but the enormity of the attack could only call for a response. And the response is coming from many different directions. New building in Jerusalem, for example. Attack on the Minister of Education who came to express her sympathy.

March 12, 2008

The invitation didn't look very inviting - the title "What? He's Still Alive?" and the subject, a musical adaptation of Tsvi Ganor's autobiographical Yiddish fiction about survival in and after the Holocaust, could very good, could be catastrophic. But I had to see it, and invited myself to the dress rehearsal this morning. I knew Daniel Galay, composer and pianist, wouldn't turn me away. Thank goodness. The Yiddish narration by Yisrael Treistman - the neutral narration of the individual horrors of the holocaust, the danger of demonization after, and the (partial) recovery, had the most impact for me, as one who feels through words, as well as the powerful moving tenor voice of Yisrael Rand. But Daniel Galay on piano and accordian, Daniel Hoffman on violin, and Gershon Weissfurer on Euphonium and oud created a world of emotions in the evening, moving from the hopelessness and despair to the attempts to forge reconciliations and new beginnings that transcend the terrifying experience. It will be played for the first time tomorrow evening at Felicia Blumenthal Music Center on Bialik Street, and if you can understand Yiddish or read the Hebrew translation, go. Don't think. Go. It's at 8:30 and costs 40 shekel.

While searching desperately for a parking place in Tel Aviv, I ran into innumerable friends - some of them also looking for parking, but most of them enjoying the amazing weather in an amazing city. There was Ruti, looking out at the passersby from her balcony, Shlomzion on her bike on the way to Yaffo, Nurit recovering from her morning coffee, and thousands of others.

To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home