Tel Aviv Diary - September 28-October 2, 2009- - Karen Alkalay-Gut

Tel Aviv Diary - September 28, 2009 Karen Alkalay-Gut

September 28, 2009

Ah, Yom Kippur has passed and so far so good. No war, no destruction, no wild shihabs from the sky - not today. Shihab, by the way, is from the Koran - it's the terrifying retribution from the sky reserved for enemies of Islam.

September 29, 2009

Want clean air? Come to Israel the morning after Yom Kippur. You can actually breathe here.

Oops, you missed it. The traffic is at its worst now. Everybody getting back to work after a long weekend.

Speaking of traffic, we got stuck on Palmy Einstein Street tonight because of the fire trucks. The fronds were being harvested for the roofs of sukkot.

September 30, 2009

"How is it you haven't commented on the Goldstone Report?" a friend wrote me today."You seem far more absorbed in yourself than your city, your country." In a sense it is true. I haven't said that I believe with all my heart that we should be investigating all the aspects of "Cast Lead" on this site. I haven't even said much about Gilad Shalit lately. But every element of my private life is interspersed with the politics and the sociology of this country. And this is true for every person living here.

October 1, 2009

I can't keep track of all the birthday parties, weddings, engagement parties, and sukkot holidays. I buy a present, go home, remember another present, or a card, and go back, get another one, go out again... Today I got so cramped for time I thought I'd try the shop next to my office, at the Diaspora Museum. I don't know how long it has been open but I've never been so desperate before to think of it. But it turned out beautifully. It may be tiny but it's got everything a museum shop should have, including cards and books and gifts. The book store at the university has a lot of stuff, and I was there yesterday buying gifts, but the Diaspora Museum Store is 'classy,' if conservative.

A lot of shopping in general is going on around here lately - negotiations, promises, threats, exchanges. As long as we're not fighting I'm happy - it's just keeping busy and sharing attention. And there's a lot of risk involved, like if one or two terrorists that have been free come back for a second try. A pretty young woman with a bomb strapped around her stomach and a little experience at a checkpoint.

October 2, 2009

Jan Morris once wrote, “It’s okay to stay at home.” “Travel is not compulsory. Great minds have been fostered entirely by staying close to home. Moses never got further than the Promised Land. Da Vinci and Beethoven never left Europe. Shakespeare hardly went anywhere at all-certainly not to Elsinore or the coast of Bohemia…. Travel, which was once either a necessity or an adventure, has become very largely a commodity, and from all sides we are persuaded into thinking that it is a social requirement, too … not just a way of having a good time, but something that every self-respecting citizen ought to undertake, like a high-fiber diet, say, or a deodorant.” But Jan Morris did her traveling inside her own gender as well as in the world, and she/he wasn’t Jewish, so didn’t know about Sukkot and the wandering spirit. We, for example, will be spending every night in a different Sukka until we get to the airport on Wednesday. Sukkot is part of the lesson of flexibility and temporariness in the life of the Jew, the need not to be dependent on a specific place. We have a home, but who knows who will come in somewhere and drag us out into the street by our hair.

In this spirit we have decided to heed the advice of Leonard Cohen and, having taken Manhattan, we’ll be going off to see about taking Berlin. To Karen Alkalay-Gut Diary

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