The Gossip and Wickedness Project
Musical composition of Hebrew poets in the form of a series of monologues for actors and musicians.
Gossip and Wickedness is a text-based project in which Rali, involved for many years in Ethnic music from around the world, sets out to explore the same places – ethnic, authentic and powerful – of her life and her Kibbutz past. The texts are written as monologues addressed to a woman. Some are sub-texts to the music, while others are
meant to be performed by actors with instrumental accompaniment. All contain a mixture of great cynicism and sadness. (2006—8)
We were always very open-minded
We were always very open-minded!
Very, very, open-minded.
About every single thing.
We got it at home, from our parents.
They too were always very open-minded. Always.
Even at the worst of times. Open-minded.
It’s a matter of education!
A word that in recent years has really… gone down the drain!
But our parents,
well, they always remained open-minded.
Even when the primitiveness around was simply… unbearable!
Loyal to the education they got at home.
From our grandparents.
Who were also always very, very open-minded.
And it was not simple for them, not at all!
To take all that open-mindedness and come to the Middle East.
To the primitiveness.
To the superstitions.
To the bigotry.
To all this… wahsh wahsh .
But come they did!
Yes, they did come!
And they arrived!
And they stayed.
And they remained open-minded. Sometimes really…
gritting their teeth!
Well, after some time… they no longer had anywhere to go back to…
Yigal doesn’t forgive me for not being 17
Yigal doesn’t forgive me for not being 17. Every time we meet, his eyes tell me: “Shit, you’re not 17!”, and my eyes tell him: “Ah.. Yigal, don’t jump into conclusions… I simply had a terrible day today… Wait, wait… Next time we meet, you’ll see what a wonderful 17 year-old I will be!”
To Yigal, I was 17 for nine years. From age 13 to 22, which was the first time his eyes said “Shit!” to me… And my eyes told him: “No, Yigal, it’s simply a very stressful time… I am about to finish… then I will rest a bit and I will be 17 again”.
I remember the first time I was 17. I was 13 and we had just returned from the cotton. He looked at me suddenly and his eyes said: “Yes! Just like that! Don’t change! You’re so beautiful! So beautiful! Your beauty is the realization of everything we tried to achieve here! You justify our very existence in this place!”
When I was 28 years-old, his eyes said “A wedding? So how do you intend to be 17 now?” and my eyes told him: “No… Yigal… Look, he gives me stability… You know… Without stability I will have a very hard time being 17…”
A few years later, his eyes told me: “Pregnant? So how do you…?” and my eyes told him: “Come on, why are you making such a big deal of it? Two weeks after I give birth you won’t be able to notice anything on me!”
A few weeks after I gave birth for the third time, my eyes told him: “Yigal, why don’t you find some other girl? What about Itzik’s daughter?” “Rosenblum?”, said his eyes… “Well, OK.. she is really beautiful… but she doesn’t have your justification”.
And my eyes told him: “OK, Yigal! Give me a few days! They have a new cream now in the drugstore… It’s expensive, but I will go for it! You’ll see! Realization, justification, Zionism, Socialism and the Brotherhood of Nations!”
How hard can it be? After all, I have already been there!
But Yigal won’t forgive me for not being 17.
A letter to Göksel Baktagir
March 21, 2006
I approached your former student, Elad Gabai offering him to play a Qanun solo in my concert. Elad told me that there is a piece including a cello part written by his teacher from Turkey, a wonderful piece, which he would very much like to play.
On Monday he gave me the CD. On Tuesday I listened. Immediately after listening I called Elad in order to tell him that I wouldn’t have enough time. I didn’t tell him on the phone: “I won’t have enough time, I have to cross a whole ocean in order to even start touching Göksel Baktagir’s music”.
The CD’s title is indeed called “Okyanustaki Sesler”, “Voices from the Ocean”. The pieces are called “Kürdilihicazkar”, “Nihavend”, “Nev’eser”, “Suzinak”. I recognized the names. They are the names of maqams. When I listened to the CD I understood what you did. You plunged into an ocean of meanings, traditions, subtleties and delicate features of every maqam. These are the sounds of your ocean, the depths of your immense Turkish culture, so astounding and continuous.
On the cover you have the look of a perfect bespectacled and smiling nerd. “He must love his grandmother”, I told myself. And I wanted to tell you about mine. About Granny Malka. And the word suzinak made me recall her two sisters too, Aunt Zissel and Aunt Mindel. They were all young socialist Zionist women in Radom, Poland. And my grandmother was the queen. They were idealists, Zionists and socialists, active members of the theater club in Radom formed by young Jews. Do you know how they expressed their uniqueness? Among the Poles, they spoke only Yiddish.
And my grandmother was the queen.
In 1934 they all came to Palestine.
When I was a little girl I asked my father where was he born. He said “Poland”, but added that since he came when he was a very small boy, one can say he is a sabra, a native Israeli. But in 1934 he was already a 10 year-old boy. It’s just that he couldn’t stand his former identity.
Granny Malka found herself in the Worker’s Housing Project in Tel Aviv. Along with her husband, he two children and both her sisters. Nobody there knew she was an idealist, a theater lover, or that she was a queen.
All at once, my grandmother, her sister Zissel and her sister Mendel discovered wrinkles on both sides of their mouths. Two deep-furrowed wrinkles, of disappointment and scorn. This is how I remember them. Not that we met so often. They always seemed to me grayish, Jewish women from the Diaspora, while I came from the green expanses of the kibbutz and was sun-tanned and loved Pink Floyd and the world which belonged to us young people.
They weren’t impressed by me either. I think that to them I looked like a shikse, a gentile girl. Disappointment and scorn, disappointment and scorn, thus spoke the wrinkles to me always…
Dear Göksel. I will work hard in order to succeed in playing your wonderful music. But between us there lies an ocean I will not be able to cross. You are in the water and I am on the beach. Building castles in the sand.
Yours in admiration,