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

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

October 13, 2013

I've been reading "Surviving the Holocaust with the Russian Jewish Partisans" by Jack Kagan and Dov Cohen. The book has been on my table for the longest time and suddenly I picked it up and couldn't put it down. It's all documents and explanations of the fate of his family and friends, and the thing that struck me most amid this document of people who were trying hard to avoid being documented and therefore wiped out, was the human element. The caring for individuals, the attempt to give each individual their due. It's something we tend to forget in history, and something that's sometimes overdone in facebook and twitter where it's all about me me me. I'd really like to find out more.

And now, for my readers in the US - like Robert and Lisa in Washington - I'm going to be there the first week of November. Falls Church, Va.

Because we're doing a bit of remodeling i have become particularly aware of the poor quality of our walls. "They didn't have much concrete then," Ezi reminds me, as the cracks get bigger and bigger. So I was even more full of wonder when I saw the professional quality of the amazing kidnap tunnel uncovered today. Walls thick as my wrist. A tunnel much longer than the circumference of our entire building. How much concrete went into this hamas tunnel built to capture an Israeli citizen or soldier and change the bargaining cards? And do you know who gave them the concrete? we did!

Of course this makes one wonder how many other tunnels they are. The Egyptians are blowing up Gazan tunnels wholesale, but we have been sleeping, cutting down on our funding etc. etc.

Despite my acupuncture regimen my back is going crazy. I sit around watching Ezi working and it is such a strain on my sciatica...

October 14, 2013

1.8 kilometers of tunnel leading to a kibbutz - Ein Hahoresh. 800 ton of concrete. how many houses could be built with that - even houses with security rooms that would keep families safe from those nasty Israelis.

Speaking of Israelis, Ezi noted that the concrete must have come from Egypt, not Israel, because Israelis have only been shipping concrete for a few years and the tunnel was years longer in the making.

I think I'll wait until the other tunnels are uncovered - maybe to other kibbutzim - and then tally up how much concrete was used.

Am I the only one who wondered why the Knesset had to open today on a Muslim holiday?

October 15, 2013

(cont.) Haven't heard a word about it. But since the holiday started only yesterday evening, maybe it doesn't have to be so serious. We were in Jaffa when the announcement of the holiday came. Ezi filmed it

The holiday is about the sacrifice of Ishmael

and then we went and saw the new play by Yossi Yizraely called "The Bible Teacher," an Albee-esque dialogue about the concept of the sacrifice of Isaac. Appropriately we saw it on the Moslem holiday of the sacrifice of Ishmael, but the idea of the sacrifice of the son is vital to Jewish culture in Israel. A constant theme of poetry and literature, the terrible guilt of the father at the sacrifice of his son, the awful guilt of the children at the sacrifices made for them in surviving the holocaust and establishing a homeland...

Take this poem by Amir Gilboa, "Isaac"

In the morning the sun strolled in the woods
with me and father,
my right hand in his left.

A knife flashed from between the trees like lightning.
and I shrink from my eyes' terror before the blooded leaves.

Father, father, come rush to save Isaac
so no one will be missing from the meal at noon.

It is I who am slaughtered, my son.
Already my blood is on the leaves.
And father's voice was stilled,
his face pale

I wanted to scream, writhing against belief
and tearing open my eyes
I awoke

And my right hand was drained of blood.

Yossi Yizraely's play is much more psychological and not at all political, and deals with the questions of reality as much as the conflict of generations, but the fact that the text is interwoven with questions and answers of the Bible, and the plot entwined with father-son conflicts, gives it a national context that overlays the Albee-Pinter sense of isolation.

Yizraeli is an individualist who has rejected the confines of theater-cliques in this country and works on his own. He's the writer, director, and co-star of this simple production, and makes it work. Why does this interest me? Almost forty years ago i saw a production of his at the Habima of Agnon's "A Simple Story." It was beautifully grandiose and I was very impressed with the achievements of theater in this country. But the grandiosity should not replace individuality or individual talent. That's true of theatre as well of government, business, etc.

October 17, 2013

My strange new mac keeps telling me it is tomorrow and I keep thinking of a line from Leah Goldberg's "The Absentminded Man from Kfar Azar," who wakes up, looks at the clock and can't figure out whether it's noon or night. "Oh no," he says, "if it's already tomorrow, I've missed everything." So i've been going around for a week, late for appointments, constantly apologizing, blaming my own absent-mindedness. Only today did I notice this. Sorry if i mixed you up too.

Want a cheap good luck package Avra CadivraDidn't mention it before because i was too distracted....

Leah Goldberg, in case you don't know, was one of the wonderful multitalented poets of the earlier generation. To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

write me

To Karen Alkalay-Gut home