Tel Aviv Diary - October 7-11, 2011 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

October 7, 2011

Erev Yom Kippur - no room in the mall parking lot. The terror of the coming silent day-and-a-half brought people to wander through the impossible shops of Ramat Aviv. I welcome Yom Kippur as an opportunity to have a conversation with the divinity. Not that I want anything but that it's always nice to learn from someone so wise.

And now for learning about stupid people 200 Swedish academics are calling for a boycott of Israeli Institutions. If Israel didn't contribute so disproportionately to the wisdom of the world, maybe this wouldn't sound so dumb. If a fifth of my students weren't Arab maybe this wouldn't sound so silly. And if the basis of academia wasn't dialogue and progress I wouldn't be so absolutely disgusted. It seems the academics are not very academic.


I've been reading commentary on Kol Nidre all afternoon. There is one basic thing no one mentions. This is an admission that we have no authority to commit ourselves to anything, because we are nothing before the higher authority. I don't know how everyone else feels about it, but this prayer gives me an incredible sense of freedom.

October 8, 2011

yom kippur eveSo it's sideways, and slow, and not up to snuff - but it's the center of Ramat Aviv next to the synagogues where all the kids in bicycles concentrate. Blasphemy? Maybe. But remarkable for its silence, its community, and its inclusion.

October 9, 2011

Meanwhile, all Yaffo was churning up - cemeteries defaced, molotov cocktails thrown... we see the hatred building up, feel it inside us, think we're doing everything we can as individual citizens to ameliorate it, but obviously we're not. I'd love to see an alternative. yes, i'd love to see elections, a change of atmosphere. What I got from Yom Kippur this year is that we're all sinners, we're all responsible for each other, and no one has the authority to say what is right for all. So we have to work together.

How does that sound?

Great. Now how do we DO this?

How is it I didn't know that Taha Muhammed Ali had died last week?

I can't find it anywhere. It's true I haven't seen him for five years inNazareth but he has always remained in my heart. Here he is at the Dodge Poetry Festival that year. He had such a homey, warm way about his reading, a beatific smile that always won my total attention, with such innate nobility - I don't see it in this video, and I wish I could read his poem in English the way I felt it instead of Peter Cole, who is a brilliant translator, and a brilliant poet, but not great as a reader.

October 10, 2011

The resignation of so many Residents today is crippling the hospitals - but what choice do they have? As overworked as they are, they can't do the good job they would like to do.

But no one seems to be able to function in the Middle East. They say that even the Blackberry phones are not working in the countries around here. The sense of chaos is all around.

October 11, 2011

If Gilad Shalit is still alive, and is really coming home to us soon, everything changes.

i have to see him

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