Tel Aviv Diary - November 13-17, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - November 13, 2013 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

November 13, 2013

The world news is so great I don't have the heart to kvetch about minor details. The terrible tragedy in the Philipines has me fighting to stay away from CNN and my mind on the wonderful women who take care of my neighbors at home. How can we help - just money?

Apparently the TSA terrorist detection program is a bust- I know that in our case it was stupid. We had to go through additional screenings because we apparently looked suspicious to someone. But in Israel the screeners talk to everyone who comes through and start the screening at the moment of entry, and if something in the conversation seems suspicious someone else comes to talk. The key is talking. No one talked to us when we went through customs in the US, but someone decided we look strange and sent us to be checked. Maybe we didn't look like we belonged together... But the key is INTELLIGENT evaluation. Simply pulling people out who are the 10th individual, or who are smiling idiotically (the way I often do) is not screening.

who - for example - would have a problem with letting someone like this into the country?

a perfect citizen

for some reason the direct link doesn't work. copy/paste does.

November 14, 2013

We have arrived in NY. It's pretty amazing not only because I've been kvetching all day and now have come to heaven. The flight was less horrendous than I anticipated. Yes - long lines - yes - long waits. But the security at Rochester was what I've thought it should be - just a bit humane. Just a little looking at people as well as documents. Just a smidgen of a smile here and there. It makes all the difference.

We are in New York. I haven't told most of my friends because I never thought we'd make it - but we are here - in a fabulous place and all I need to do is go to sleep and wake up in the MOMA.

November 15, 2013

Oh dear, I've put my foot in my mouth once again. When the kids wrote shabbat shalom on what's app, I wrote back, "What gut shabbes? Out here in goyland we're getting ready for christmas." it was such a crochety thing to say. on all accounts. but now i see that all those old christmas songs they keep playing in the malls and department stores are really getting to me. It's not the religion or the commercialization but the fact that as a non-christian i am a stranger. i imagine that Muslims and Hindu and all the other people in Macy's who were shopping their hearts out felt the same. Maybe they just ignore it. And maybe they don't know all the words to all the carols like I do so it doesn't reach their consciousness. But as I was admiring the modernity of the Eastview mall in Victor, New York yesterday, with its touch screen store finder and free wireless I found myself singing along with, "Venite, venite in Bethlehem. Natum videte, Regem Angelorum; Venite adoremus, venite adoremus,venite adoremus. Dominum!" We were just coming out of the Apple store when the music entered my consciousness, and I realized how deeply engrained this culture is in my mind. Yes, I learned the songs in choir in fifth grade and yes i was allowed to be silent when the rest of the class sang "Christ the Lord." And yes I have an abnormal ability to remember lyrics. But still. The "Sing all ye citizens of Bethlehem - Glory to God" suddenly got me thinking about the real citizens of Bethlehem and how they are influenced not only by Christmas but also Hannuka even though their religion recognizes neither holiday as religious.

November 16, 2013

I have to apologize for my criticism of the Cameri theater's depiction of MacBeth. I said all kinds of bad things i can't remember now about that Scottish play in Israel, but today I saw Orlando Bloom on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet (to tremendous applause) and I have to reconsider my criticism of Israeli theater. I thought the broadway production of Shakespeare was almost as amateurish as the Israeli. In both of them the characters declaim something in solemn tones and then run off the stage. or run on the stage. or run through someone. in both of them there is no character development at all. just a stick figure looking good. in both of them beautiful black women starred and their gorgeous movements and manners had nothing to do with the plays' characters. And in both of them I was the only one not clapping.

On the other hand, I went a bit crazy at the Chagall exhibit in the Jewish museum, an exhibit absolutely worth seeing. Maybe he doesn't need all the explanations all over the wall that simplified the contextualization - maybe he was made a bit too jewish, maybe overinterpreted. But he is a master of the lost. The sense of a world that was erased seems so prominent in his works - whether it is a dream of a yeshiva bocher in the shtetl or the documentation of a synagogue in Vilna that would be soon destroyed.

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