Tel Aviv Diary May 14, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - May 14-18, 2006 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 14, 2006

Why am I not writing about what I am doing in Tel Aviv? Because my back is out and that means I won't be going to see Moshe Dor's reading with Barbara Goldberg tonight at Tsomet Sfarim in Dizengoff Center. And I probably won't be going to anything I absolutely don't have to go to until thursday. This is a depressing thought because there really is a great deal going on this week and a lot of people I'd like to have fun with.

May 15, 2006

Nakba today. Lag B'Omer tonight. There must be a way to combine the two...

Since this is a day of tradition, we had a traditional sushi dinner that helped me get over the rather unsavory procedures the vet had to go through on the dog.

On the way back I found myself praying to God - not the usual prayers, which I think are effective in a cultural and social context, but a direct bargaining for the life of my nephew. All the ceremonies and rituals of this strange holiday like the bon fires and the head-shaving blended in my mind with the symbolic keys the Palestinians showed to the cameras, the recounting of tales of woe. It all seemed of the same trivial level - playing with toys - when what counts is life. health.


And now the noise of exploding campfires and revelers outside mixes in my mind with the demonstrators in Gaza. Forget Bar Yochai. Forget the Nakba. Demonstrate for food. Demonstrate for medicine. Demand the chance to live now.

The thought that a man would die in a hospital in Ramallah because there is no catheter to drain his infection, that a woman would die in Tel Aviv because she can't afford the medicine to treat her stomach cancer... these issues seem so much larger to me than memories, tradition.

Yaakov Besser, the Israeli poet, writer and editor-- founder of the highly respected 30-year-old literary monthly Iton 77, who has spent his life encouraging and promoting young writers, is now undergoing anti-cancer drug therapy in Tel Aviv. The drug is working. It is not, however, currently subsidized by the Ministry of Health, and he must thus pay for the medication out of pocket in the sum of 15,000 shekels ($3450) a month.

While the long-term solution is for the government to provide the Ministry of Health with the funds it needs for the health care of all Israelis in all circumstances, as had been the case in the past, the short term solution is for Yaakov to be able to afford the drug he needs in order get well.

Those of who love the Hebrew language are indebted to Yaakov for his life-long contributions to Hebrew letters and for his promotion of a just society. We now need to stand with him at this critical moment in his life. Any donations that you can send, in whatever amount, will not only help him with his medication but will also send him a strong note of encouragement, and lifting the patient's spirits is as much a part of his recovery process as the medicine itself.

You can transfer the funds directly to his account:

Acct # 415541
Acct name: Besser
Branch: 681
Bank: 12 (Hapoalim)

Robert Whitehill adds: The checks can be mailed from the US to the Iton 77 Editorial Bd, POB 16452 TA 61163--and the editors will send the checks over to Mrs. Besser. Postage air mail from the US is 84 cents.

May 15, 2006

I expected this morning to be thick with smoke, but when I walked out early in the morning, the air was as usual. Then I remembered - there are no longer places to light bonfires in our neighborhood. No empty lots, no open spaces. When my children were small we'd make our family bonfire across the street, running back and forth with more potatoes and popcorn, and the next day was a tragedy for asthmatics.

But today was clean and i ate petango from my neighbor's bush and had a little talk with the crows about whether things are better or worse.

I mean after all the standard of living has gone up around here, and there are more people unemployed and with much less medical help than ever before.

And then in the afternoon I got stuck with my gas guzzler in the traffic around the fireworks display on Yarkon Street. Actually I avoided Hayarkon Street, and went through the city from Yaffo to North Tel Aviv. It took me through Salame Street - through Chelenov - the old bus station - then up the Haifa Road to the north. Because I was almost standing still most of the time, I had a long time to notice the variety of people and the changing of the neighborhoods. From the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood where I began, with its own mix of clothing Muslim, observant Jew, miniskirt, to the Oriental, to the African, to the traffic beggars on the border, to the soldiers, to the regular people of tel aviv and then to the tzfonbonim of the north. (tzfon = north/ bonbon = supercilious me).

And now I'm getting calls all evening from friends who are stuck in traffic and bored.

May 17, 2006

Turns out all the traffic cops were busy giving parking tickets last night to all those poor slobs who couldn't get through the mess to a legal place to leave their car. Ah, Tel Aviv Municipality. Does ANYONE have a good word about ANYTHING they do around there?

Tomorrow I get my computer back from repair. I had Thought it was backed up before i gave it out - but (shudder) discovered that Ezi just backed up the pictures and the videos. I can't even get my lecture notes out for classes tomorrow and probably won't sleep all night worrying about whether anything got lost..

Tomorrow we hope to go see "Creme Tout and Avak Srefa" a dance performance that has Iris Erez in it. I have heard so much about it I know i won't be disappointed.

May 18, 2006

It is always possible to feel when the traffic accident rate is going up - the drivers get more and more careless. Sometimes I can feel it on the road - how many people cut me off, how many irrelevant honks, how many motorcycles weave in and out irresponsibly. This week is particularly bad. More people killed in traffic accidents than in terror incidents in this country.

My personal peeve is motorcycles, because they startle me all the time - coming out of nowhere, nervous, rushed, and out of control. But there are endless problems with traffic - unclear signs, unsafe vehicles, and most of all, uneducated and uncontrolled drivers.

At long last, we mosied over to the Suzanne Dellal Center tonight, and after a very nice kubbeh and squash at Suzanna's, went to see the last performance of "Strawberry Cream and Gun Powder" by Yasmin Goddard. Our Iris was one of seven dancers with Avi Balleli's music

Israel Festival - May 29, 2006 - Love Soup -

Even though I might have told you otherwise, this is a one-time event, so if you're thinking of ordering, it would be a good idea to order in advance.

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