Tel Aviv Diary - September 21-5, 2010 - Karen Alkalay-Gut

September 21, 2010

September 22, 2010

For our first Sukkah night, we went to moshav Hemed near the airport and sat in a sukkah with our friends. It's a religious establishment so the gates of the moshav are closed on holidays and you have to walk 2 kilometers to their house, but it was worth it. A few poets, an artist, and the quiet interrupted only by occasional flights overheard. The artist is rocovering from surgery for a blocked artery and is becoming pure art himself. The poets are well-known, and have undergone great transformations in their lives. Both have great causes - one Buddhist, one deep ecology.

September 24, 2010

A sparkling afternoon opposite the new Habima theater. We sat in "Nechama and a half" and watched the silver glints in the walls of the theater building. I would hate to live within eyesight of this renewed umbilis of Tel Aviv - it's too glittery. But the carbon exhaust will soon tone it down, so it isn't all that bad.

September 24, 2010

Every time I here Ahmidinajhad talk about Israel I think he's got to be kidding - yes, we do a lot of things wrong but we're certainly trying and trying hard to be as humane as we can without committing suicide, and even though I don't like Bibi or his methods I think he's not doing too bad under the circumstances. But Ahmidinajhad is not kidding, and his inconsistencies and circumventions regarding Israel's existence, the Holocaust, and so on are very strange - all kinds of fancy footwork to distract the world from what his hands are doing.

When it comes to cutting toeh logic, Mark Twain, was a master. Look at what he said "Concerning the Jews,"

In an afternoon discussion on the art of Amos Kenan at the Spaceship Gallery, I was overwhelmed once again by the lucidity of Uri Avnery. Both he and the wise and witty Yair Garbuz talked about that brief period in Hebrew culture when it was totally native, created by the spirit of the land, not imported from other civilizations. Both Garbuz and Kenan were born here, and created art, literature, journalism, criticism, and politics from their unique experience. Since then, they claim, culture is imported, determined by other factors then this land and the energy that emanates from it. You can see the energy at the gallery across the street from the U.S. Embassy.

September 25, 2010

What is Hebrew culture, you've been asking me. I'm not always clear, so it is right that you should ask. Hebrew culture was created by people who were born into the Hebrew language, in the 20's and 30's. They didn't associate their living in this country with Judaism, although they were Jewish, or with nationalism, but with identity. Hence it wasn't 'Israeli.' Most of the people I know from that era believed in sharing a place with the Arab culture, but not melding with it. They believed in two states for two peoples, but only on the principle that good fences make good neighbors. This culture faded when so many of them were killed in the War of Independence - 6000 of the 50000 young people living here in those days, and when an influx of immigrants after the Holocaust brought more of a european culture to these shores.

While I'm on the subject of European culture in Israel, I might as well share with you an old theory of mine about Jewish cooking. There is a lot of Eastern European food of Jewish identity I am not happy with - like Ptscha (beef jelly) and gefilte fish. There are other things - like Cholent and chopped liver and mandelbrodt that I can't stop eating until it's gone. But I think of how my mother learned to cook - she was married after she left her parents' house and very little contact with her family in the long years of her exile. How did she set up a kitchen? How did she know how to can all the bushels of fruit, all the pickles, borsht (beet soup), schav (sorrel soup)and all the other culinary industries at which she was so adept? Where did she learn how to select a chicken, take it to the slaughterer then the plucker and then bring it home, cut it open, examine the organs for wholeness and health, and then salt it on a slanted board in the sink to kasher it? And then make chopped liver for the first course, soup for the second course, then chicken for the main course. The expertise of Jewish cooking had to be reinvented by the post Holocaust.

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