This morning’s siren wailed, as it does each year, for 2 long minutes. As all of Israel came to a halt in Remembrance, I sat on a bench, watching the children who are not, whose chance for swings and slides and all the joys of life was brutally stolen 70 years ago.
Holocaust Memorial Day, my 3rd here, began last night at sunset. The Brodt Jewish Cultural Center opened its doors for an evening of testimonials through story and song from families of survivors.
and Yiddish even
After the siren, a mother pushed a stroller into the park and I breathed again, feeling the swings’ joy
Around town in Tel Aviv
Israel Army training at the Mediterranean (no these won’t count as your exercise for the day!)
I even found Oldies Jazz one evening:
Was it pride that felt so “itchy” in my first art lesson? The 20-something instructor was gracious and open-hearted, more than capable. Still, the battle within was with the (small) part of me that felt foolish. “OF COURSE you don’t know this stuff. It’s not a biological instinct and you’ve never been taught.”
I quieted my inner-self about being clueless, opting instead for “childlike” by asking (dumb)questions. I was even honest when I didn’t know where to begin or what next. Teachers teach because people need to be taught. Thankfully, or I’d have missed out on many great experiences. Dancing, my career, how to work-out with weights . . .
It’s almost always about the Within
The first 2 classes and a special event Paint Night has released self-assigned homework for pondering and prayer:
- I see only a fraction of all there is to see. I’m missing so much beauty.
- Am I exploring creativity, or expression? Where do they overlap?
- From where do creativity and expression come?
- With what type of people do my heart and mind connect, and why? The art class question of “with which materials do my heart + mind + hand connect?” reframes a lifelong question about why we connect with some and not others.
- Instinct plays a huge role in the learning process – whether a new skill or making a friend. I don’t want to miss out by rejecting something too soon. When should I heed instincts to turn another direction, or embrace? Or, will I miss out if I don’t give it more time? When is “I don’t like the feel of this” to be heeded and when is it necessary for growth?
- I wonder what my readers think about these things. Please write and tell me!!!
During my first lesson, a very experienced student implemented several suggestions from the teacher, and after an hour’s work I noted the cluster of trees in her oil painting had taken on markedly improved depth and realism. Cool.
I’m relaxing (mostly) into letting myself create and play with charcoal and pastels and ink and paints with the teacher/coach. Seeking to see what I look at more honestly has found me sitting and studying shadows of leaves and twisty branches, the natural creasing of the back of man’s t-shirt and how the hair he still has curls tightly in countless shades of gray.
It’s easier to resist researching something on my phone or thinking I should get moving and get something done. I am getting something done. I’m seeing the world around me.
Although I’ve journaled extensively, only twice have I drawn to express myself. In 2007 I brought a sketch to my counselor, a picture of how I felt. I’ll never know whether it was effective for her, but it was for me.
The second time was April 12 – the first art class. Charcoal in hand + permission from myself resulted in putting Loneliness on paper, and even instilled a bit of confidence that I can do more with what my heart sees.
The pottery class visit several months ago (blog #33) gave me what I needed to go to this next step. May these reflections free you towards your next step, class, or whatever other good and healthy and wise New of your life is pending.
More Sames and Differences: Israel vs U.S.
Vegetables preside: The mid-afternoon meal is later and larger than “lunch,” and the evening meal lighter and also later in the evening. Vegetables hold a far more significant place in each meal – multiple veggie salads and warm veggie dishes adorn the table. Most veggies seem to have more intense flavor. Is it soil or the super-advanced techniques to grow food from Desert?!?
Coffee: Homes don’t have drip-coffee makers! Expect instant, or what Israel calls “black coffee”, more like cowboy coffee. Boiling water is poured into a cup that’s already prepared with a generous teaspoon of specially-ground coffee; milk and sugar are usually stirred-in to preference, and the concoction is left a minute as cake or conversation fill the table. The coffee grounds settle to the bottom of the cup, leaving a richer coffee flavor. Once I understood I was not obliged to drink the sludge at the bottom, I found the flavor better than instant.
Not what it seemed: Encounter vs Keeper
I wrote about meeting people at cafe’s and exchanging contact information, or being told where they gather – a sort of casual invitation. Nothing came of either. Did I misunderstand? Perhaps.
What now? Am I disappointed in what wasn’t, or delighted with the encounter that was? Finally, I can say I’m genuinely delighted with the moments of encounter. Period.
My quest for relationship is not permitted to steal the gifts of moments I receive. That includes the many fun, albeit brief conversations with servers, cashiers, bus riders, etc.
As multitudes of stars in a night sky make the night more lovely, I’m treasuring each encounter. They’re not all (my) sun, but rather stars flickering at the moment.
I’m letting go.
Negba Kibbutz, founded in 1939, played a substantial role in Israel’s War of Independence. Like most, Negba’s Kibbutzniks were socialist idealists. Forced to become soldiers with too few reinforcements or weapons, they desperately defended themselves against Egypt’s well equipped and manned 6,000 troops. The Egyptians attacked Negba in waves of 500 against the Kibbutz’ mere 140 (residents plus reinforcements). Meanwhile throughout Israel, the surrounding Arab nation armies attacked, stretching impossibly thin the fledgling Jewish nation’s resources.
After 3 months of battle, Negba Kibbutz was destroyed-but-victorious.
Victory is incompatible with complete destruction. Isn’t it? Stories like these abound, and challenge me to revamp my expectations regarding success. Negba’s statue above conveys to me the power of Determination and Courage. While not enough on their own, aren’t they crucial to living well?
http://www.zionism-israel.com/dic/Negba.htm for more of the history
What was the success of Kibbutz Negba? Egypt’s plan to conquer Tel Aviv after marching through the Kibbutz was thwarted. Negba held the Egyptian army long enough. Just long enough to allow an Israeli rag-tag army to be formed and deployed to fight for survival, with miraculous results.
The records I found shows 11 defenders died. Many of that generation immigrated here to escape pre-war persecution, or were post-war survivors with no remaining family. Still, family or not, is it a comfort to loved ones to know that the impossible cost of death brought the safety of so many other lives, even generations ahead?
Strength and determination scream from Negba’s enormous statue. Two men and a woman call to me to be more than I am.
Ilana Goor’s name may be familiar to those of you with art education or exposure beyond my own. Atop a huge cliff with a 3-sided view of the Mediterranean is the Israel home of this eccentric artist/collector, who also resides and works in NYC. My photos couldn’t capture anything worthwhile, so take a few minutes to checkout the museum website and Utube links below.
Eccentric is an understatement. (if the site comes up in Hebrew, click English in the upper left corner)
http://www.ilanagoormuseum.org/Collections/Collections/ On the lower right side of this link find the 2014 video of her interviews in NYC and here. It’s fun meeting the artist in the video… while I’m sure my vote cancels hers in most elections, I respect her talent and appreciate the success she’s enjoyed.
Other pieces are displayed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3lRbUncGW8
Last but not least, are videos from this past Saturday morning’s Israel Folk Dancing by the sea, and evening Fluent Tel Aviv (FluenTLV.com), a weekly gathering for conversation-experience among language learners (Hebrew!!, English, Spanish, French, Russian, and others). Though impossibly crowded and noisy, my first visit was a grand success and I look forward to returning.