Apologies and The Tale of the Book Fair

First of all, I want to apologize to you all – I haven’t had time to read any of your wonderful posts yesterday and today, and I feel awful about it. I always do, you know. I feel such a respect and appreciation for all of you who post so faithfully and who make me laugh, think, weep, and smile in turns – and I hate not having the time both to comment and to read your posts for my own pleasure. I do, however, have a good reason for not having had time yesterday and today to catch up.

I’ve had a rush of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds [stomach and throat – I’m not pregnant or anything!] and errands in the past two days. On top of all that, starting yesterday, June 2, I’ve been working at the Hebrew Book Fair, which has been one of my goals since I was tiny tot.

Now, I don’t want to be too discriminatory, nor too prejudiced, but Israelis are often not the easiest crowd to deal with. This is common knowledge amongst Israelis, too, and as I am one, I’m allowed to say it. But Hebrew Book Week is ten full days in which fairs go up all over the country – fairs dedicated to BOOKS [yeah, I know, why call it a week when it’s ten days? It’s one of the grand mysteries of the world.] If you don’t know already, books are my life in more than one sense. They’ve been calming, comforting presences, friends when I needed them, entertainers when I needed a laugh and teachers when I wanted to learn. I love books. I love their smell, their feel, the crack in the spine when you first start reading a book… I love books.

So finally, this year, I’m working at the biggest of the fairs – the one that goes up right in the center of Tel Aviv – and I’m working for one of the major publishers. I never thought that I’d actually manage to work there, and I’m so glad that I have! I was tiny when I started going to the annual book fair, and I remember the excitement of leaving with bags laden with books [there’s 20% off all books during this time, of course, plus numerous other deals] and reading one of the books right that night. I remember going to the children’s corner to hear storytellers or writers reading their books.

And now I’m there, looking at it all from the other side. It’s an interesting experience, seeing famous Israeli writers or not so famous ones; seeing the way different writers deal with their own books [some, for instance, promote them shamelessly and aggressively. I can’t imagine ever being able to do that with anything I’d create…] ; seeing the different buyers, whether they’re families or couples or friends; meeting the people who work with me who are just as into books as I am… It’s an education, and the time flies.

The fair is in the evenings and into the night. I just managed to get out tonight by fifteen after midnight, and I’m exhausted. This may explain the non-existent eloquence of the post, as well as the not-so-pervading neatness and flow. Forgive me, for I’ve been on my feet for seven hours, and I think my brain might have dripped down meanwhile. Tomorrow, and Saturday, I will have freer days and will finally get back on track with y’all.

Independence Day

Independence Day in Israel falls on a different date every year. It is celebrated on the same date in the Jewish calender, but it’s very different from the common calender that most of us use – the one with January, February etc. The Jewish calender is actually based on the cycles of the moon – by looking at the Jewish calendar I can always know when it’s going to be a full moon and when there isn’t going to be a visible moon at all. It’s quite comfy.

No matter when Independence Day falls here, though, whether in April or May, it is always celebrated in the exact same fashion all over the country. On the Eve of it, there are performances in every city, some streets are closed off so people can roam freely in certain areas, and the same pointless, useless, dumb junk is sold all over. One time, I bought a headband with orange or pink pom-poms standing up on it. I think I purchased a necklace one time as well. Still, this year I saw my favorite pointless junk, but I refrained from buying it – sunglasses with little light bulbs all around the rims that flash on and off in different colors. Sensible, stylish and not at all tacky, I say!

That’s only one part of the holiday, though. On the day itself, the skies of Israel are blurred with smog and smoke – everyone, simply everyone, has barbecues. EVERYONE. There isn’t a free grassy knoll or an empty park bench to be found anywhere.

If someone could explain to me how any of this is supposed to symbolise patriotism for the state of Israel, I would appreciate it.