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Leon's No Newsletter 211

A world full of action

Even though I call this a no newsletter, I admit that it is a record of my experiences and where possible, the lessons I learn from them. For example right now I’m enjoying the experience of listening to Jose Carreras singing Intanto Amici from Cavaliera Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. This is a great drinking song. You might enjoy the words as I do:

Intanto amici, qua,

Friends, (come) here!

Let's drink a glass.

Here's to the frothing wine,

Sparkling in the glass,

Like the lover's smile

It inspires rejoicing!

Here's to the wine that's sincere

That makes every thought a happy one

And that drowns a black humor

In soft intoxication.

Translation by Mike Gibb

There’s been lots of action around me in the last few weeks since I last wrote to you. My last letter was inspired by tourists who come to the Holy Land to witness the fulfillment of prophecy. Today’s source of inspiration is the process of loading my music onto my new Nexus 5 telephone, which Etti bought for me and which Jonathan, my nephew, who came from California with Michelle so that they could get married in true Jewish tradition, in Israel, brought for me.

This is bringing me back to the things I love, music, movies, theater and lectures.

I had left off these things for a while, mostly because I wasn’t hearing very well. In fact it was only yesterday after adjustments to my new hearing aid that I realized that my lack of hearing had been turning me into a solitary person.

I was missing lots of clever and amusing things people were saying. I could hear them if they spoke directly to me but I couldn’t hear the things they were saying to others in my company.

I wasn’t getting paranoid, thinking that they were talking about me and I knew that mostly they were talking to each other about things that didn’t interest me, like what’s to eat at this or that restaurant, but the worst of it was that, now and again they were telling bits of news, like the name of Anat’s sisters new baby, Ariel, which was very interesting to me and they took for granted that everyone at the table, including me could hear, making it unnecessary to tell me specially about it.

This led to me constantly interrogating Etti to find out these details. Sometimes I figured things out on my own, like the name of Michelle’s mother, Susan and her aunt Lori, when I took Lori and her daughter Sascha for a tour of the Old City.

They had all come from California for the wedding. I had my picture taken with the stunningly beautiful bride Michelle and handsome bridegroom, Jonathan. We were standing on a green grassy field that fell away like a cliff to the little fishing harbor of Kibbutz Sdot Yam, where people were bathing and where, after the one party in their honor ended another began. The scene was stunningly beautiful and full of life.

It was one party after another and the center piece of all the parties was the Hupa, the bridal canopy, which is the essential and distinctive feature of a Jewish wedding. The ceremony was made even more beautiful by the setting of the Mediterranean where little boats were sailing. The white of Jonathan’s suit and Michelle’s wedding dress, was set off by the deep green color of the lawn and blue of the Mediterranean.

I can’t compete with the vigor of the beautiful kids dancing to rock and roll, twist and all the other energetic dances but what old fogy can refuse an invitation by a beautiful 13 year old. I danced as I’d never danced before, even when I was young like these kids. I kicked, jumped and twirled the beautiful Sascha in the most amazing contortions that had the kids goggling.

The next day I was off to Massada, always a favorite tour of mine, with a mixed group of tourists from Poland, USA, Germany and Nigeria.

As we approached we could see the preparations for the evening performance of La Traviata at the foot of Massada. I wondered how the desert could add anything to the appreciation of La Traviata; a tragedy of a highly cultured society with elegantly dressed ladies, dancers, musicians, imposing concert halls and other entertainment places.

The producer is nothing less than a genius, in my opinion, because he recreates Paris as if the desert isn’t there. Yet the starkness of the Judean Desert competes with the magnificence of the ballroom of Violetta’s parties. The audience cannot avoid either, the one sets off the other, making each a spectacle. They must compare the two; the high Paris culture of the 19th century, being acted out on the open air stage, with the starkness of the desert, all around them. Paris is beautiful because it’s artificial and the desert is beautiful because it’s real.

The effect of the contrast is stunning.

My granddaughter Tamar likes to go shopping at the magnificent Azrieeli shopping center in Modiin. Usually one or two of her friends go with and I accompany them as escort. Sometimes she asks me to fork out some cash when she’s short and we always buy some ice-cream, iced coffee or some other sweet thing like Belgian Waffles.

Tamar has loved water since she was very young, now she’s 10 and I should have been aware that her request to walk through a beautiful park on our way home was leading to water. Sure enough we came to this beautiful stream in the park in Modiin and Tamar and her friend walked over it balancing on the stones. I should have known what was coming but I was too busy filming and watching the little girls enjoying the little adventure which turned into a big adventure when her friend fell into the water and Tamar jumped in to rescue her and I was trying to help them both. They had their adventure which is what they were after in the first place and we walked soaked back home. Now I’m left wondering whether a grandpa is suited to the job of taking care of two little, adventure loving little girls.

It was only 2 o’clock after having my hearing aid adjusted so I used my new Nexus 5 to see what action was taking place in the city. I found a discussion taking place in another 3 hours at the Van Leer Institute on the subject of women being involved in the peace process. It was very interesting, mostly because there were only two men in the audience and it was obvious that it was women trying to persuade themselves that the fact that they were women made their contribution to the peace process valuable by giving a different perspective. They weren’t talking to men, rather they were talking about men and how men dominate these forums and apply male points of view of the situation, so neglecting the feminine perspective.

After that I felt I needed some light entertainment, so I asked Nexus what shows were on in town and found a big selection at Cinema City, Jerusalem’s newest fun place with about 20 cinemas, 50 restaurants, tens of shops, million watt glittering, flashing and streaming lights, reds, blues, yellows. This is what I imagine it must be like to fly to the moon and play among the stars. I had come to the right place for the mood I was in and I saw exactly the right movie, “A million ways to die in the West” According to this movie, film portrayals of the American West of the 19th century are ridiculous and absurd This is a parody of how only the brave could survive in the American West of the 19th century.

The thing that makes it funny in parts is how a coward is challenged to a gun fight and tries to persuade his protagonist to lay down his gun, instead of killing him. Thanks to the love of a brave woman he learns to be brave also and eventually becomes the hero.

Wishing you a great no news day

Yours truly

Leon Gork

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