Tag Archives: israel

The Rain

An excerpt from “Between Friends” by Amos Oz, an amazing Israeli writer.  This short story, taken place in the kibbutz and set to the rain from start to finish, is about a devoted father who fails to challenge his 17-year-old daughter’s lover, an old friend, a man his own age.

“In the early hours, the first rain of the season began to fall on the kibbutz houses, its fields and orchards.  The fresh smell of damp earth and clean leaves filled the air.  The rain rattled along the gutters and washed the dust off the red roofs and tin sheds.  At dawn, a gentle mist enveloped the buildings, and the flowers in the gardens sparkled with beads of water.  A redundant lawn sprinkler continued its sputtering.  A child’s wet red tricycle stood diagonally across a path.  From the treetops came the sharp, astonished cries of birds.

The rain woke Nahum Asherov from a fitful sleep.  For several moments after waking, he heard tapping on the shutters as if someone had come to tell him something.  He sat up in his bed and listened intently until he realized that the first rain had come.  Today, he’d go there, sit Edna down, look her directly in the eyes, and speak to her.  About everything.  And to David Dagan, too.  He couldn’t just let it pass.”

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Don’t Ask Men for Directions?

Yes, I am a feminist, but that’s not what you think.   I respect men.  They are handsome, smart, brave, and helpful.  They would tell you how to park your car, when to stop by the gasoline station, or what to buy in the grocery store.  They would advise the kids what would happen if they don’t do their homework, and, most importantly, who will execute the punishment and when (mom).  They would take their children to the action movies, concerts, and fun zones, simultaneously loading them up on fries, pop corn, and sugar (quality time is more important).   They will buy the newest I-Boxes, tablets, laptops, I-phones, Androids  and other life’s necessities for their off springs; and, of course, the best photo and video equipment on the market for themselves to capture these important  “new technology” milestones.   At the dinner table they would take their time teaching the kids important life lessons while “someone” is cleaning up the table and doing the dishes.   In case they can’t answer the tricky question, they will always point the child in the right direction – the mom.  There is not enough space in this story to list all the small and big things we need our men for.  I have three of them in my house, and would not trade it for the world. But that is not what the story is about.

For a few days before we loaded our flight to Israel my husband kept assuring me that everything was under control.  He prepared the boarding passes, addresses, directions, copies of passports, cash, etc.  I “trusted” him as he asked, and put my energy into packing, and running last minute errands.  The flight took 11 hours.  We arrived in Jerusalem at 11 pm New York time or 6am Israel.  We were exhausted and could not wait to get to our apartment, jump in the bed and close our eyes.  My younger son was already way passed his bedtime, but he did not complain yet.  We found our way through the airport to the taxi stand, and waited our turn.  The Arab-looking cab driver put our luggage in the trunk, got back to his seat, cleared up his GPS and asked for the address.   My husband had it ready.  The cab driver looked at it for what seemed like a long time, and then informed us that his GPS was in Hebrew.   Luckily, he spoke a little English and was able to make out how the street name sounded.

Eventually, we stopped at some roundabout.  There were few entrances into several 3 story buildings’ courtyards.  A lot of Jerusalem streets are narrow, so the car could not come directly to the house.   The cab driver assured us that our building was somewhere around here.  To prove his point, he showed us something in foreign language on the GPS.   We got out of the cab.  Asking somebody for directions was out of the question, since the good people of Jerusalem were still sleeping.   Our fearless leader took another look at his papers, and established that our building was next to the Wine store.  Progress.  Except we had no idea where the Wine Store was.  Finally, we saw a lone pedestrian walking the deserted street.   Were we lucky or what?  He showed us the store (why would people ask for a Wine Store at 6:30 in the morning was another question). There were few entrances next to it with the street names – all in Hebrew.  May be not so lucky…

My son and I were learning to read Hebrew to get ready for his Bar Mitzvah, and even though we were far from being fluent, we knew how the letters sounded.  My husband did not really believe in our language abilities, but had nothing else to offer.  It took us a few minutes, but we did it – we figured out our street; and soon after found our building.  Just as we were ready to jump into bed, we were struck with yet another dilemma.

The front door had a big metal lock with a code and two handles.  My husband took out his I-phone and found an e-mail from the management with all the info we needed to enter the building.    He put the code in and twisted the handle, the door did not barge.  He did it again; and again; and again.  The door was locked.  Yet, I was still optimistic.  For some reason, part of me kept thinking that if the criminals could escape from the high security prison, there should be the way to open the freaking door.  Another part expected God to help us out in the Holy Land, and perform a miracle for once (he did make Red Sea part, and one day oil last for eight).  But, I guess, Jews in the 21 century, unlike the ones living thousands of years ago, should rely solely on themselves. My 7-year-old son was sitting on the top of the suitcase on the cobble stone courtyard in the fairylike city he saw in Aladdin, silently watching his dad doing the same thing over and over again, hoping that the magic door would finally open.   The sun was fully up by now, but August air was still cool and refreshing.

The situation was not looking good.  The management office was closed to at least 9 am, could be longer, considering that timeliness was not big in the Middle Eastern culture.   May be someone would come out of the building and open the door; but what was the possibility of this happening any time soon?  I was going over all the different scenarios in my head desperately trying to find a solution; none of them seemed encouraging. That was when I decided to take a look at the e-mail myself.  We were clearly missing something.  I looked at the code that my husband was putting in – the numbers matched.  I scrolled the text down to read the rest of the e-mail.  Sure enough, there was a note to twist both of the handles at the same time after the code was entered.  I asked my husband to try one more time with the handles trick.   The moment of happiness when the door finally opened was priceless.  There was another safe with the code inside the building, next to the management office- the safe that held the keys to our “promised land”.  This one was more cooperative, thanks God (or ourselves).  We went up three flights of stairs, dropped the luggage, took off our shoes, and slipped under the blankets.    Putting your head on a soft, fluffy pillow never felt better.   Few hours later well rested and rejuvenated we went out to have lunch and tour the Old City.

P.S.  After reading this post, my husband demanded to include that today he also resized the pictures, so that I could put them on my blog, and tried to download the photos from my phone on the computer (unsuccessfully, even after implementation of his plan B, but that was not the point).  So here you go, honey; now I need you more than ever.

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