Tel Aviv Diary September 18-22, 2007- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007

Don't get your hopes up. Although dinner at the Fairway Cafe made me feel like I'm in Tel Aviv, NY is not the place to write a Tel Aviv Diary. And we missed the opening of Papa's yesterday. Here we are on Broadway with all the lights and in places and I am kvetching about not being in the Carmel Market. Hardly worth reading these pages. But if you're around St. John's University tonight, come hear me read.

September 19, 2007

"I don't do Yom Kippur" a friend whispered to me, and the next person i spoke with warned me when I asked where he would be praying that women were not welcome. For every friend i have in New York there is a different way of 'observing' the holiest day of the year. In Israel there are basically two - synagogue or bicycles.

It is so much nicer to be able to ignore your identity in favor of retail therapy. A friend told me today how she was surprised when Dahlia Ravikovitch came to visit her in NY the great poet was mostly interested in shopping. I'm not surprised. After a daily struggle with identity in Israel, the anonymity of simplie shopping is an amazing relief.

Why is it so easy to shop in the US and so hard in Israel?

September 20, 2007

What an amazing night - and what a surprise - Liz and Rafi met us at B.B.Kings' and after we had discussed Gaza and Israel and the fact that the only reason they'd move back to Israel is the health program, we got to see Imiri Baraka and Eric Bibb and Leon Bibb and then Odetta. Odetta! Her amazing voice and personality, her amazing collection of songs, the history she helped to create by preserving folk music and the black tradition in music. And we were in the first row.

But that remarkable array of black performers, introduced by a family of brass musicians, all spoke pointedly about their heritage. They all praised each others' contributions to this heritage, and all gave credit to those who helped shape the tradition and the consciousness.

This would never happen in Israeli society. Our joy is to criticize and complain about each other.

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