Tel Aviv Diary Nov 23-27, 2004 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - from November 23 -27, 2004 Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 23, 2004

Poverty: When the annual study of poverty determines 1 in 5 Israelis is living below the poverty line, how can you think of anything else? Before I left this morning for a conference, I watched Bibi speaking about encouraging people to go to work, and later in the car I heard the statistics, and I would like to encourage our Minister of Finance to go out to work. There ARE no jobs, and many many people who would be incapable of working even if there were. After all, we take in every Jew who wants to come here, right? So old people and disabled are part of the deal. We're a welfare state by definition, and we have an obligation to those people. And what of the people who live far from any job centers? What of those who were never trained for anything?

But most important, what has Bibi ever done to create jobs? Our greatest Finance Minister, Pincas Sapir, built factories, bullied and wheedled donations for the purpose of creating jobs. Bibi gets donations to polish up his image.

So the conference I was part of today, however fascinating and unique (and it was), could not have as much impact on me as the news.

The conference was on Jewish-America. More tomorrow

November 24, 2004

I've been hooked into looking up relatives all day. I keep finding that the information i have about how they died is wrong - and the person who gave the documentation was my mother. Now I've got to find out what really happened!

Now that we have floors I feel like a human being, so I can get back to a normal life. Or abnormal. whatever. I hope this means I can start reading the papers again and really watch the news!

What about Thanksgiving? We have many invitations and I am quite amazed how important it has become. I never celebrated it in Israel - except maybe once. Turkey in fact was the cheapest meat we could buy, not whole, in pieces, dry and ugly. We used to make turkey rolls, turkey steaks, turkey burgers, etc. but we never could get whole turkeys and never really thought it was an issue.

What am I saying? There are probably thousands of Israeli-Americans who celebrated thanksgiving all along.

To return to the ways my uncles and aunts and grandparents died. Most of the stories match, but one didn't fit. And now I see that the misinformation came to me from other sources. My aunt, Malcah, 1) I thought her name was Katz but that was my father's sister who told me that - it turns out her name was Kravitz 2) I thought she was killed in Poland. This was told to me by my cousin Nahum who was with her in the Partisans - But my mother wrote she died in Orleans. She never told me where. How could she have died in Orleans? My mother was always accurate. She used to tell stories to the guys I went out with while they were waiting for me, and sometimes they thought the stories weren't accurate. They checked the facts, and she was right. For example, she once told a guy named Mike that in the Blitz they dropped mines from the sky. He said to me, your mother is a little daft from the war. Then he studied up on the Blitz and discovered she was right in every details - dates, sounds, etc.

I think she's the one to trust.

November 25, 2004

So what's up with the weather? hot during the afternoon, freezing in the evening. The weather is supposed to be the most boring thing you can think of around here - rain on Sukkot, gradually getting colder until February, then gradually getting warmer, rain stopping around Shvuot for good. Now we have hail one day, locusts the next.

Tonight we were walking around Dizengoff Center and I was still dressed for the afternoon, short jacket and jeans. I looked around and people were wearing long coats and scarves and keeping their head down and hands hidden. But there is a wonderful charm about King George Street no matter what the weather is. We found ourselves at a Japanese restaurant named Sakura, relatively new and not cheap, ordering stuff to take to Orit, and when we took it to her and ate it all, couldn't stop wondering at how good everything was. We had thought to meet some friends at another Japanese resturant, Yakimono, on Hayarkon Street, but this was just as good, and we're too into finishing the last round of tasks connected with putting our house in order.

November 26, 2004

What does Pandarus say? "Lord, this is an huge rayn! This were a weder for to slepen inne;" When it rains here, people tend to stay home. And I would have loved to hark Pandarus' advice and stay in bed. We continued in our tradition of not being sociable and stayed home and continued trying to put our house in order, but nothing keeps the world outside around here. A few friends dropped by and I mentioned that a guest from the U.S. I was with yesterday complained that Jerusalem had become very depressing since the last time she was hear, a decade ago. "Yes," my friend said, "Poverty and Religion have done that. But more important, the occupation is coming home to roost." I have known my friend for a dozen years, and never heard her say a word against the city in which she lives and works. "I was a student of Talmor," she went on, "and in '67 he warned us against the occupation, what it would do." My mouth had dropped, because I had never heard her say a word against the occupation, but she went on, "But even Talmor and Rabinovitz could never have forseen the situation in which a border soldier makes a Palestinian take out his violin and play it for him, then disparage him."

What shocked me was not her attitude or opinions, which i share, but that we have never discussed them.

I shouldn't have been surprised. I was talking to another friend the other day about the hail, locusts, darkness, and wondering what would come next and what the message is from above. He said, "The people in Jerusalem would say that you people in Tel Aviv are at fault." I responded, "I thought the message was we should 'let some people go.'" I don't think he was amused. We couldn't pursue the conversation but it occurred to me afterward that we too hadn't discussed our political opinions ever.

Both of these friends are equally intelligent and familiar to me.

November 28, 2004

One of the only unversally jewish meal is cholent. With different names it is made by sabbath observing people everywhere. Because it is a whole meal that gets put in the over before sabbath and is ready for saturday lunch. We don't make it much - although we usually have sabbath lunch - but the weather for cholent is european. Fortunately today was cold, almost bad enough for cholent. So een though we don't have a kitchen, we made cholent yesterday in a slow cooker, and it was an amazing experience. Not the food, which is wonderul and comfortable, but the way it keeps you in your seat for the afternoon, warm and easy.

My friend is having plastic surgery - breast augmentation - i tell her that's the only domain over which we have control.

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