Iam surprised at this unexpected turnabout. I was really upset when that policeman suggested the whole episode with the Arabs and the white van was the product of my overactive imagination. Now it’s confusing to hear they’ve changed their minds. “What happened to make them suddenly believe me?” I ask my father.

“The detective called this morning while you were sleeping. It seems they found an abandoned van in the sand dunes between Ashdod and Ashkelon last night. It matches your description and when they checked the registration it turned out to be stolen. The crime lab managed to get information from the GPS in the dashboard indicating the van was driven from Tel Aviv to Ashdod. It was driving on Rechov Rashbi corresponding to the time and place of the incident you reported.”

I shiver, recalling the whole experience. “Do they know who the men were?”

“The officer told me they found fingerprints from two different individuals. Only one set is in their data base. I thought this might be sufficient information to lead the police at least to that guy, but it seems he lives over the Green Line, where the Israeli police have no jurisdiction. The police put in a request with the Palestinian Authority to find him. Sometimes they cooperate, and sometimes they don’t. Anyway, a photograph of him is being distributed at border crossings so if he tries to reenter Israel there’ll be a surprise waiting for him.”

I think about the tall Arab telling me that he just wanted to see me, to talk to me. At the time I was petrified with fear, but now it seems like such a weird thing to say. “Do you suppose they really intended to harm me?”

I didn’t realize I’d said that out loud until I heard my mother gasp. “What makes you say that?” Ima asks.

“I don’t know.” I shrug my shoulders. “I was thinking that if they wanted to harm me they could have done it easily. They were two grown men and I was just one scared kid, but in the end they opened the door and let me go. Doesn’t that seem strange to you?”

“Baruch Hashem!” Ima declares. “I don’t care what they wanted or didn’t want. Meanwhile, until we get to the bottom of this, you don’t go anywhere unless you’re accompanied by either your father or me.”

“Come into the living room,” Abba suggests, changing the subject. “Let’s review today’s daf before you go to sleep.”

I take out the Gemaras, but my mind is distracted. Surprisingly, my father doesn’t seem to notice. In fact, he also seems to be having some difficulty concentrating. That reminds me of my mother’s worried face earlier, and the hours they spent in their room yesterday speaking in low voices as they discussed something private between themselves. During a pause I ask Abba, “Is there something going on that I don’t know about?”

The question brings a momentary frown to his face, quickly replaced by his familiar smile. “Nothing you have to worry about,” he replies, adding “I appreciate your sensitivity. It gives me nachas to see how you are maturing into such a fine young man.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 711)