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June 02, 1978 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-06-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

`Grandpa Isidore'

By AMOS OZ

Special to
The Jewish News
At a quarter past nine on
a rainy morning Grandpa
Isidore opened his eyes. He
had been awakened by the
sound of brass guns being
drawn by horses on squeak-
ing wooden gun-carriages.
General Shevchenko's
troops had returned to the
town at last, and were now
engaged in crushing the
power of the hooligans and
driving the armed rabble
out into the forests, the
muddy villages, the
swamps.
The church bells had also
been rehung, and were ring-
ing out again. He must get
up.
He must get up, get
washed, dab on some scent,
put on a dark suit as befitted
a notary public and a silk tie
in honor of the impending
meeting, pick up his stick,
put on a hat, arm himself
with some useful docu-
ments, and take the precau-.
tion of secreting a neatly
wrapped bottle of vodka in
his overcoat pocket.
On the way to the town
hall he must collect the par-
nas and the gabbai from
their homes and then ap-
pear with the utmost po-
liteness before the general
at the head of this humble
but experienced deputation
representing the whole
Jewish community: it was
time to resume the old

understanding. Time to
renew the community's con-
tacts with the legal gov-
ernment on a basis of calcu-

lation and reciprocal polite-
ness. Time was pressing. He
must be up and doing.

Meanwhile the strong
horses harnessed to the
brass guns had passed
and gone. Now they
would be down by the
water, firing across the
river, perhaps they had
already set fire to the
great forest opposite.
Must get up.

The furrowed hand
clasped the stainless steel
handle which his
grandchildren had taken
the trouble to fix to the wall
beside his bed. After a
struggle involving every
bone in his body he stood up,

with one foot still bare, and
began to wrestle with the
buttons of the brightly pat-
terned pajamas which his
great-niece had brought
him back as a present from
London.
All night long the radio
which he had forgotten to
switch off had spoken and
sung and twittered and
screeched. Now a loose
woman was trying to per-
suade him in a seductive
whisper only to use the Most
Caressing Soap. A furious
tug on the flex, the plug was
pulled out, and the trollop
was forced to shut up.
As he feels for the switch
of the electric fire his lips
will mutter: S'is gurnisht.
Sha. Shtil. Ge'endikt.
(Quiet. It's nothing. It's
over.) The thunderstorm

Short Story by Amos Oz

to be quiet and which of the
three of us was deemed
worthy to see Jerusalem
and only this endless rain.

Translated from the Hebrew
by Nicholas DeLange.

Ge'endikt. (It's over.)
Only because he has be-
come hard of hearing he will
not hear Mathilda Azikri
come in in her blue apron to
put the breakfast tray down
on his bedside table and to
say good morning. He will
not touch his breakfast this
morning in any case. The
brass guns on the river-
bank are fireing mercilessly

AMOS OZ

outside has abated.
He shuffles over to the
window, pulls open the cur-
tains with feeble rage and
looks out at the street in the
rain. February in
Jerusalem. The rain is
heavy and steady. An occa-
sional burst of low thunder
comes back like a beaten
warrior. Along the pave-
ment a procession of
drenched dustbins; one of
them has been upset by the
wind and has spilt a mass of
rain soaked newspapers
which cling to the railings.
Bare trees dripping. A
grey half-light and tatters
of mist caught on the tiled
roofs and low stone walls.

Over the road a derelict
plot full of thistles, clut-
tered with rusting scrap
iron, lashed by the rain.
In front of it is a huge sign
in three languages: On
this site will be erected
the Center for the Promo-
tion of Brotherhood
sponsored by the Jewish
Community of Montreal
and the Eisenstadt fam-
ily.

Eisenstadt, Grandpa Isi-
dore grumbles with disgust
and loathing, but these too
pass and are gone.

A woman in a raincoat

trips lightly across the
street and disappears. A
dark motor makes its way
towards Talpiyot or
Rachel's Tomb. The strong
horses and the gun-
carriages have receded far
into the distance while in
Jerusalem the heavy,
steady rain keeps falling.
Now Grandpa Isidore is
shivering in the overheated
room. Gone are the calcula-
tions and the reciprocal po-
liteness. He is alone as

usual. A furious, infuriat-
ing man was Shneur Zal-
man Rubashov, alias
President Shazar, and he
too has passed away. There
is nothing left. The old
understanding will never
be resumed.
He was an anti-Semite,
a bloodthirsty pogrom-
maker, a fool and a con-
firmed drunkard — Gen-
eral Shevchenko, of ac-
cursed memory. His
bones have long since
rotten under the snow.

And the bones of the
worthy Halberstamm and

Zondel the gabbai, may God
avenge their martyred
blood and have mercy on
their pure souls.
Halberstamm was no
saint and Zondel talked too
much and never knew when
• _

Friday, kw 2, 1911 9
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at the great forest across the
water and the horses are
rearing on their hind legs at
the smell of fire and smoke.
He will leave the win-
dow, draw the curtains to
shut out the beating rain,
and turn on the radio
again to hear why the na-
tions rage; and if he
realizes that the sign is
still delayed he will
climb furiously back
into bed and wrap him-
self up in the heavy blan-
ket again because his

I.C.C. License MC125965

kefees hurt and the light
in the world, in his eyes or
in the room is so very fee-
ble. S'is Gurnisht. (It's no-

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