Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Kotel

A friend called me on Thursday. He said that he would be in Jerusalem on Sunday for the big demonstration against the "disengagement plan". In the course of his visit he would of course go to the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount to pray. I said, "I haven't been to the Kotel in a long time, perhaps I will go there for Minchah (the afternoon prayer) today."

Well Minchah time came and I thought to myself, "It's Thursday. Tomorrow you have to go shopping and prepare the Sabbath. Dovven(pray in Yiddish) Minchah at the office minyan. You'll just get tired out if you go to the Kotel today." So I dovvenned with the office minyan. In the middle of the silent prayer I felt something tickling my hip. It was my cellphone, in silent-vibrating mode. Well you cannot stop in the middle of prayer to answer a cellphone! Soon the tickling stopped. After the prayer service was over I left the synagogue and looked at my cellphone. The unanswered call came from a number that I did not recognize. What's more, they left me a message. Who was the mysterious caller?

I listened to the message. It was none other than my wife calling from a stranger's cellphone. She had travelled to the Old City that day, parking her car in the "Givati" parking lot near the City of David. She said that she could not start the car, and that she had to get home to take care of the children. "Figure a way to get the car out of here. We have a problem," was the end of the message.

I called the cellphone that my wife had used. "Excuse me. My wife used your cellphone to call me. Are you still near her?"
"No, I'm far away already. She's stuck with her car in the Givati parking lot."
"Thanks so much," I said and hung up.

So I left work, making sure that I had the number of the towing company that the car insurance pays for. A million thoughts go through my head: What's wrong with the car? Maybe she ran out of gas? Will I be able to start the car, or will I have to call a tow truck? How long will I have to wait for a tow truck? Suddenly I catch myself and say, "What are you getting all worked up about? G-d will help and everything will be alright."

I entered Jaffa Gate and special atmosphere of the Old City hits you: Arab merchants, Armenian priests, European tourists, and ultra-Ortodox yeshiva students are all together in this special world. I turn right by the Tower of David. There's the Kishle, the police station. I had mixed feelings when I saw the men in blue. I know that these guys work day and night to protect us, on the other hand I recalled my own experiences with the police's mounted troops and their horses. Those guys scared the you know what out of me during the anti-Oslo Agreement prostests. Back then the slogan we said was, "Don't give them guns!" Unfortunately we were absolutely right.

Further down the street the aroma of treif food from an Armenian restaurant assaults my nostrils. Turn left. Soon I'm in the Jewish Quarter. Jerusalem, I love you! I used to guide tours here, but now is not the time for sightseeing! The car, the car! I walk down Batei Machase Street. Beyond the Old City's walls, a majestic view of the City of David below is revealed before my eyes. "As mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the L-rd is round about His people from now and for eternity(Psalms 125:2)." I leave the Old City through the Dung Gate and head down to the "Givati" parking lot. I see a lot of cars and bunch of scruffy looking Arab children playing with an even scruffier looking soccer ball. I survey the entire lot very carefully. My car is nowhere to be found.

To be continued.
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