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

Tel Aviv Diary - May 23, 2010 Karen Alkalay-Gut

May 23, 2010

Why were we married in Cyprus thirty years ago? We knew that we couldn't get married in the Rabbinate in Israel because Ezi is a Cohen and I was a divorcee, but when we turned to a reform Rabbi he recommended a civil marriage, and gave us the address of some lady in Nicosia who had connections. We were told it would take us a week and we planned accordingly. But the next day in Nicosia she showed up at our hotel and took us through the bureaucracy, and the day after we were married at 8:30 in the morning. It gave us the rest of the week to explore the island on a wonderful honeymoon. But when my parents were informed they invited us to the US, where we were met by the local rabbi who explained he would be performing a hatuna. "But you can't," I protested, "He's a Cohen and I'm divorced." "I don't hear very well," he answered. And he married us. So we have two certificates and two anniversaries.

May 24, 2010

Lots of furor on campus lately - but only on the part of the faculty. There are petitions to sign - against the boycott of Israeli scholars, against the refusal to permit Chomsky physical access to Beit Zeit university. There is a site that 'watches' israeli campuses, and constant articles in the papers about how good or bad we're doing. There are petitions concerning the cleaners in Tel Aviv university, and a faculty activist list. The only thing there isn't is a place for faculty to meet and discuss things together. In all these years, we've never managed to get a normal faculty club. So we never meet.

May 25, 2010

Why I would WANT to go to the hospital is beyond me, but my son-in-law is giving a public lecture on minimal invasive spine surgery and we have a personal interest in this matter. I plan to be one of his patients soon. so we mosey over to the lecture around ten to eight and discover crowds of people in the hospital corridors waiting in line to get in to the auditorium for the lecture that starts at 8. With a little help from our friends we get in from the side door, and manage to get some of the last seats available. The mood is almost like in the ER room in that a mass of people are demanding help, but nobody's really sick. The lectures are clear and honest, but as the doctors leave, a trail of old people follow them, with their personal aches and pains.

May 26, 2010

Because Shusha is well over 14 years old, and quite arthritic, she does not descend the stairs without slipping, and has become accustomed to the elevator. That's why I wanted to make sure that when she hears the siren warning of an attack, she will agree to go down to the shelter. I couldn't get the Nigerian cleaner to understand that today. I spoke to him, and opened the door of the shelter, but he dropped his mop and stood at attention, assuming this was another one of our memorial alerts.

So we inspected our shelter - the phone doesn't work, the stairs need sweeping, the battery lights need to be changed. There's no water, but otherwise, the chemical toilets are fine and the chemical filter works. Let us hope we'll never need, and that no one ever will have to hide from bombs.

May 27, 2010

A Cohen, for those who have been asking me, is one of the priestly class, who served in the ancient Temple. The descendency is patrilineal, very carefully registered, and kept pure. A Cohen, for example, is not allowed to enter a cemetery. Or marry a divorcee. That's we were not allowed to be wed according to the Rabbinate here. But the law also says that if the Rabbi didn't know that the man was a Cohen and the woman was a divorcee, the marriage counts. That's why we are both legally and religiously wed. As if it really mattered.

All you really need for a jewish wedding is a ring, the prayer, and two witnesses, as my mother once tested. It was a joke in the playground, and she was 8 a boy put a cigar band on her finger and said the prayer. Doesn't sound like much, my grandfather took them to the Rabbi to have the wedding annulled.

I love weddings, especially those that connect different societies. Last night I went especially crazy with a supermulticultural wedding party, slashing through the societies in Israeli like crazy. Lots of Arabic and pseudo-Arabic and Greek and rock music, all of which are common in this country, but lots of Arab dancing as well. I was drenched.

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