ovember 5, 2014

Jerusalem was used to seeing blood. Her old walls didn’t shake when two more people were rammed by a hellbent killer in a car.

Her earth absorbed the blood, as always. And whatever the earth didn’t absorb was cleaned up by the Zaka volunteers. If a few electric poles or fences got bent out of shape or crushed under speeding wheels, the municipal workers would arrive with surprising promptness to put it all right again.

As usual, hundreds of onlookers were milling around just outside the police barrier of plastic tape that fenced off the scene of the attack, craning their necks to get a view. A sweaty reporter was shouting into his cell phone in a voice that was meant to sound dramatic: “Eh, so we are here at the scene of the car ramming attack on Highway 1, eh, the details are not yet clear, it appears that the terrorist drove his vehicle straight into a group of Border Patrol officers. Eh, hundreds of curious onlookers are crowding around, despite requests from the police to keep away…”

“You’re a curious onlooker yourself,” someone heckled him. “You know you came here to see a little blood.”

“Me?!” The young man turned around, astonished at the chutzpah, and there, before his eyes, stood that weirdo who thought he was a prophet, dressed in his long white robe.

“Yes, you. When you came here, you were hoping to see more than a little blood.”

“I’m here to serve the public,” the young man said pompously. “It’s my professional duty to report live from the scene.”

“How many people are listening?” Avitzedek inquired, stroking his long, Yemenite shofar. A new idea was forming at the edge of his mind.

“A lot. A few thousand… even more when there’s a terror attack.” The young announcer straightened his back with a touch of self-importance, passed a hand over his moussed hair, and got back to work.

It was two in the afternoon when I looked at the clock yet again. At three I was supposed to be taking a shift by Rachel’s bedside at Shaare Zedek. Why wasn’t Baruch answering?

“Are you in a hurry today?” asked Reut, who worked at the cubicle next to mine. It was one of those rare moments with no incoming calls when we could have a quick chat.

“Yes. I’m leaving early, to visit a friend in the hospital who just had surgery.”

“Who’s going to take care of your daughter?”

“My brother’s taking her to Bnei Brak,” I said. “We have my niece’s wedding coming up soon, so she’s going to my family to practice a dance together with the cousins, and to try on a dress from the gown rental.”

I didn’t mention how strongly I opposed having Rivky perform a dance publicly, and how I hated the thought of dressing her in a shiny, full-skirted gown. I knew how important it was to Tatty and Mommy that the whole tribe should be there, and all dressed alike. “You don’t have to come to the wedding,” my sister Chaiky told me. “But at least send Rivky on time. She shouldn’t have to miss anything because of your meshigas.”

“Meshigas? You don’t have to accept my opinion,” I said sharply. “But at least don’t say I’m crazy.”

“Then who’s crazy?”

“You. What exactly is normal about renting glittery gowns for little girls at 300 shekels each?” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 684)