"T his is a city with a history. A city that keeps accounts. Yerushalayim will have its revenge on you, you’ll see.”

Moti looked at his father with veiled scorn, and pressed his lips together to avoid smirking.

“I came to say shalom,” he repeated, realizing that his appearance bespoke anything but peace. A day ago he’d looked like a Yerushalmi yeshivah bochur, dressed in black, with a wide-brimmed round hat and curled peyos. Now he was beardless, dressed in strange clothing, an alien from a strange and threatening planet.

“Ein shalom, amar Hashem laresha’im,” his father quoted. “There can be no peace with someone as evil as you.”

“I’m leaving, then.” Moti bent down to pick up his mostly empty duffle bag. “You won’t be seeing me; I’m going far, far away.”

Yerachmiel Yosef had kept his eyes steadily averted since the first shock of seeing his son standing, bareheaded and bereft of his peyos. He didn’t look up as he shared his final words with his son.

“You’re already far away. Very far.”



“So, Moti, how’d he take it, your father?” asked Uri, the unit commander who was waiting for him in an open-sided jeep.

“He said Yerushalayim will never forgive me for this,” Moti chuckled. “That the city will yet see its revenge.”

Uri laughed out loud. “Yerushalayim has forgiven worse things than this, believe me.”

Moti had joined the underground secretly, keeping word of his activities from his family in Batei Ungarin. Uri, a kibbutznik from the cradle who was serving on the Jordan Valley front, had initially dismissed Moti as just another one of those adventure-seekers who saw the Haganah as a way of casting off their heritage and all its obligations. But with time he’d learned that Moti was different from the rest. Incredibly earnest, he wasn’t motivated by youthful rebelliousness. He knew what he was doing. And he had a good strategic mind, a Gemara kop.

Now the entire country was one big battlefield. Ben Gurion had declared independence, and the dead were falling like flies. There was no time to waste on trivialities. Moti was young, barely 17, but he had a sharp mind, and Uri was eager to have him in uniform.

But there was only so much a Gemara kop could do in the face of so much fighting. By the war’s end, the death toll among the defense forces had reached 4,000. One of them was Uri himself, who fell victim to a Jordanian sniper.

Moti survived. He settled in a Galilean kibbutz, where he found Shirit. Taken by her ease with the secular lifestyle he craved and charmed by her strong-minded opinions, he decided to build his home together with her — if you could call the room allocated them by the kibbutz a home.

On the few occasions when he tried to make contact with his father through mediators, he met a stone wall. “As long as he still looks like a goy, let him find himself a goyishe father,” Yerachmiel Yosef stubbornly maintained. Cut off from his family and bereft of his best friend, Moti felt the isolation gnawing at him. He threw his heart and soul into working the fields and tending the kibbutz vineyard, doing his part to nurture the fledgling state and the renewed fertility of its land. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 708)