Total War.

Mensches ready for battle

As I walk the neighborhood this Saturday, I try to articulate the unsaid to myself. The skies cast a steely sheen across everything and the sidewalks are eerily quiet. The sellers on the street below my apartment no longer joke and laugh, for there is no joy in losing profit. The tattoo parlor we live above is closed, and to my surprise, I find myself missing the constant laughter and banter coming from people relaxing and smoking on the patio. The party store beside our apartment no longer blasts music all day and the only comparably loud sound now is a garbage truck. The shuk (market), once filled with wandering tourists, is now only of service to cautious Israelis with a mission. The coffee shop which usually has a line out the door now has only a collection of people, all warily standing two meters apart. If I speak English in a store, they ask how long I’ve been here, taking caution that I may be a traveler who is breaking the mandatory two week quarantine.

People walk around with various face-masks and rubber gloves which is quite amusing; I saw a woman wearing a full gas mask, and many people wearing common paint masks which don’t do anything… nor is it clear that a medical face-mask does anything also. I guess it is an outward expression of the fear and anxiety hanging heavy in the air.

I walked into the moadon the yesterday to get a guitar to play, which is the meeting room where our program hosted talks, classes, and activities. I was there nearly every day, but I haven’t been since the government outlawed gatherings of more than 10 people over a week ago. I heard echoes of a time past, hit with that sunken feeling of never getting them back. I guess walking around the neighborhood feels like going after a breakup to that special place you and your ex went to; you recognize it, you loved it, but it’s loaded with a past rosy view which clashes with a duller present. Yes, It feels like i’m living in a parallel universe. Further contributing to my feeling of loss, many of my closest friends are leaving for home to be with their parents. I can’t leave a community behind here and crazy as it sounds America, my place of birth, one of the mightiest powers on earth, is less safe than Israel.

Amit and I shopping for doomsday

As I write about my Saturday morning walk, I see a connection to some of the greatest war accounts from the Homefront perspective. My mind went to how Anne Frank felt in the early parts of her Diary about transitioning from freedom to lack thereof. This is the first total war not just for my generation but for my parents too where the public is key to the war effort.

Rach, Jono, and I doing online classes

Despite, I’m trying to keep my spirits high and all of these limitations has spawned a burst of creativity from all creators. My program is coming up with solutions for activities with under 10 people or online. At Koolulam we are dreaming about online events. The international artist community is converging over social media to help each other. Last night I did a livestream concert from my couch for the people on my program. About 25 people engaged over google hangouts, sharing song suggestions, giving applause and laughter. I sang the Beatles, Elton John, Maroon 5 and of course my hit Sunsets Past. It made me so happy to sing and bring some happiness to my friends who are like me, cooped up in their apartments. In times like these we could let the rain drown out our voices. But I choose to be like Gene Kelly, and sing in the rain.

Me playing to a livestream audience

Pandemic in Israel- March 15th

It’s been a while since i’ve written an update- that certaintly does not mean that I haven’t been busy. I think I attribute my lack of writing updates to being TOO busy, and having less politics to talk about in Tel Aviv.

Since I’ve lived in Florentin I tell people that I’ve become a little more liberal and I’ve started eating a lot more salads and vegan food. Most of all, I’ve gotten a proper taste of being a working person in a bustling city. I have a full trello each day which I never seem to get through, I do presentations to the Owners/ CEOS, schedule meetings in my calendar and spend weekend mornings chugging coffee and working at the local hippie caffe. It’s been amazing to work at a place where I’m valued for creative insights.

Coronavirus however is injecting a ton of uncertainty into my future where many of my plans are held in the balance. Shit got real when 2020 was cancelled; the NBA was postponed, Americas father Tom Hanks was infected, and the happiest place on earth is set to close the gates for the first time in 19 years. March 12th was my Kennedy day so I have had some time to process. Koolulam has postponed our spring tour because Israel has outlawed gatherings over 100 people (and now 10 people.) I held a meeting with my roomates a few days ago going over cleanliness and health procedures and to come up with a protocol if one of us comes down with the flu. Frankly though, I’m glad to be In Israel because I think we are MUCH better prepared than the United States. This won’t be the first time I’ve faced crisis here; In my time In Israel I’ve been through two near wars (After Israels killing of a PIJ commander, and after Americas assassination of Qassem Soleimani), Many terrorist attacks (car rammings, stabbings), Hundreds of rockets and two elections. I have the privilege to be able to look at them as educational moments; Through every crisis i’ve learned more about the people of Israel and Israeli society. Israel is a country founded by socialist Ashkenazi jews from Eastern Europe and later waves of Jews fleeing Middle Eastern countries. Additionally, Everyone has a sense of duty from the army from terror attacks. All this combined means that the culture of Israeli society is embedded with a distinctly eastern sense of collectiveness which manifests itself in a willingness to give up personal freedoms for the safety of the group. Quite contrary to rugged- individualist Americans, No-one defies quarantine orders or safety orders from the government even when seemingly draconian. Now, all bars, clubs, restaurants and entertainment places are closed and people are being encouraged to stay home form work as cases increase. I’m going to be getting stir crazy.

Last Monday was Purim which was super fun. Jono and I dressed up as Hippies and the rest of Tel Aviv wandered around in drunken possies dressed in a tapestry of crazy outfits. Everyone was observing the commandment which is to drink until you cannot tell the difference between Mordechai (the protagonist of the Purim story) and Haman (the antagonist.) When our room convened the next morning “Hangover style” as we often do, one roomate had a phone stolen, another had a bleeding nose and swollen lip, another broke up with his girlfreind, another spilled broken necklace all over the floor, and Jono said they had found me sleeping on the couch. Commandment fulfilled!

I plan on riding out the storm here with the friends I have and so for the time being i’m working from home, taking classes online and doing activities with the apartment. Stay safe!