Tel Aviv Diary October 4-8, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - October 4-8, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

October 4, 2008

Susan wrote me that she had been sorry to leave Israel for the holidays, until she read my diary. "Apparently nothing's going on there anyway," she wrote, "So I'm not missing anything." I'm just not writing about Tel Aviv - it's certainly not that there's nothing going on. I'm a little sour on restaurants (hated Orca last week) and haven't been able to drag Ezi out to any place where he has to stand, so all the many exhibits are out for us for the time being. Mostly we do friends and beaches and parks, which are much more lovely then ever.

I was just in the orchard next door, listening to the birds - these were all local, sheltered under the boughs of the ficus trees in the mid-day heat, wrens and hummingbirds and a whole mess of birds I couldn't identify. They always seem more busy in Tel Aviv, more nervous, more excited. Before sundown, for example, they started chattering about the neighborhood housing problem, and they don't stop until it gets dark.

We heard the same issue at the table next to us in Pappa's when we came in - some young people worried about finding a new apartment because the prices are going up again. Young people just can't afford to live in the city, and if they move it will kill the atmosphere.

October 5, 2008

Poetry Place now has video recordings of poets reading in Hebrew. Some are really moving. All are good. Click here

We panicked today, didn't we? Everyone's selling. But I figure, what are they going to do with the money? There's no other game in town. Anyway money's the least of our worries.

But somehow I get the feeling that everyone is hysterical because judgement day is coming up in three days and we're feeling guilty. We have sinned. We have betrayed. We have been greedy.

October 6, 2008

We were doing okay until Wall Street opened today. Then we panicked again.

Outside of the stock market, though, life is normal. Everyone who hasn't left the country on vacation is leaving today or tomorrow. We may be the only ones here for Yom Kippur!

But we have a hospital to visit tomorrow, and are looking forward to the peace and quiet of the day of atonement.

When the Animal Welfare party told me that we are opposed to Kapparot, I was very tentative. I don't like annoying the religious people unnecessarily, and I really hadn't thought about cruelty to animals in those terms. But then I started thinking about this season as one of forgiveness and sympathy and how the Psalmist says, "His compassion is over all of His creatures" (145:9) and I thought that maybe one should listen to the Ramban and Rabbi Joseph Caro, who thought the practice of swinging chicken s around your head and passing the sins on to them was stupid. I mean the old handkerchief of money trick where the money takes on the sins of the person, and then is given to charity is much more effective.

And as I told Ann, I never swung with chickens.

So you too might want to help discourage this practice. As it is written, "A righteous man knows the soul of his animal" - Proverbs 12:10

October 7, 2008

There is a big demonstration today about this but I've just spent the great part of today in Ichilov and, as always, I ache all over.

Want to protest Ahmidinajab's speech at the UN? click here. Each clap of the applause was thunderous to me. To deny the destruction of my family! My brother and I and our children are the only survivors of the entire Kaganovitch family in Lida, and we are responsible for their memories.

October 8, 2008

Explain to me why we fast, my cleaner, whose horrible past also deprived her of any religious education, but whose intelligence and sensitivity .,pmakes up by continually learning. "We're not supposed to think about food. We're supposed to think about our sins and our need for purification before the Lord." I sounded so sonorous I couldn't believe my ears, but within minutes I had had five calls asking for forgiveness. So everyone is being sonorous. So forgive me if I have insulted you this year or if I have done you wrong. With God, I'll discuss things later.

My biography of Adelaide Crapsey is out again. You can get it on Amazon. The Italian one should be out shortly.

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