Outdoor Cafe at the Tel Aviv LGBT Center
I didn't expect to feel it but as we landed this evening (it's 7 hours later here) I felt a tugging at my heart. It was unexpected because I had been reading Amos Oz's memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness (excellent, highly recommended) and so much of what he talked about was the discrepancy between how immigrants imagined Israel (the Land, they called it, which conjured up images of the Michigan Women's Music Festival, I'm sorry to say) while they were still in Poland and what Israel was really like for them once they got here (the hard life, reduced career expectations, crowded living situations). Like the immigrant view of America with its streets paved with gold. Not only was I expecting to feel jaded from reading Oz, but also because of what I already knew about the Land and its treatment of the Other, whether Palestinian, Bedouin, Ethiopian. So because I had been focusing so much on all this oppression, the last thing I expected was to feel the heart pangs of love.
Much like the Biblical Balaam, king of Moab, who looks out on the Hebrew encampment and opens his mouth to curse it, but instead what comes out are blessings ("how goodly are thy tents, O Jacob..."), I was taken by surprise at my unplanned reaction. Maybe it is necessary to love something/someone/some place in order to care enough to want it to be the best it can be.
The Tel Aviv LGBT Center
Our first stop and it is impressive. Four stories and an outdoor cafe that provides some revenue for the Center. Though most of the support comes from the municipality and the employees are city employees. Amazing.
One entire floor is for the youth - the Israel Gay Youth organization or IGGY as it is called. Its brochure is pretty standard for most organizations of this type, except on the back panel there are a series of diagrams that look like something you'd find in an Ikea instruction book on how to assemble furniture. Curious, we asked about it and were told that these were instructions for disassembling a closet. Clever.
They were wonderful hosts and fed us well.
There was evening and there was morning. The first day.