Moment Of Destiny
Cafe. Earlier this summer, the
Jewish Renaissance Media
government shut the rebuilt
o cheat death is to skirt
restaurant down for not paying
along a narrow path
taxes but allowed it to reopen
that combines common
in late August.
sense and luck. The victor con-
The stone-clad building sits
tinues in life, occasionally won-
in a quiet neighborhood about
dering about the incident,
a mile from where Jerusalem's
which in my case was avoiding a
old walled city meets a new
Palestinian suicide bomber. In
ROSE NBERG modern capital. Like all other
my worst visions — albeit
cafes here, there's now a securi-
brought on by a healthy sense of
Comm entary ty guard at each entrance. An
guilt — I see body parts that
Ethiopian Jew smiled as he
include my own and hear souls
waved an electronic wand over
asking why this had to happen.
my body and thanked me for my
On March 9, 2002, my dinner plans
patience as he opened a steel gate lead-
at the Moment Cafe were canceled by a
ing to the new, multi-door entrance.
friend who had a premonition that a
Inside, a somber Israeli pop song
Palestinian suicide bomber would blow
prayer and death greeted me.
the place up. At 10:30 p.m. that night,
About 50 young Israelis sat on stools
she turned out to be right.
along the burnished rectangular bar,
A Hamas militant had walked into
smoking and smiling, and talking on
the restaurant, stood before 180 Israelis
and tugged on a suicide belt. Eleven
People do not dance here or tell loud
Israelis died that night and 54 were
or swear. They sip their drinks and
injured. I heard the sirens and saw the
ambulances and walked along the empty try not to talk about the 1,000 Israelis
who have been killed by terrorists since
streets of Jerusalem wondering why I
2000 and the increasing emotional and
had been spared.
economic toll it's taking.
I am in Jerusalem again; and a few
A woman wanted to know why any-
nights ago, I drove over to the Moment
one in America would be interested in a
Steven Rosenberg writes from Boston.
bar in Jerusalem. I moved over to an
E-mail him at email@example.com
empty table beneath a silent large screen
plasma TV and was advised by my sad-
eyed waitress to drink whiskey.
Soon I was joined by the cafe's owner,
Yoram Cohen. Cohen, who is 36 and
looks like Tom Hanks, tells me he was a
"very rich man" three years ago and
owned four other restaurants before the
Since then, nightlife in Jerusalem has
all but disappeared — along with his
other restaurants. He sunk $500,000
into rebuilding Moment and owes that
amount in taxes to the government.
Last month, his one remaining credit
card was canceled; and he expects the
bank to come any day now and take his
Porsche. In the dark corner of a place
where something terrible happened, he
tells me that Moment's days are num-
bered. "I think it's a matter of weeks,"
he says, pulling hard on a Marlboro.
Before the bombing, intellectuals,
gays, straights and the working class
found peace in this small stone building.
Cohen says he will remember the 25
couples he introduced that went on to
marry. They met during different phases
of the daily metamorphosis at Moment.
In the morning, it opens as a coffee
house that plays classical music; at
lunch, businessmen are drawn to the
quiet location; at night, the lights are
lowered and Moment morphs into a
bar. -While security has helped prevent
suicide bombings in Jerusalem in recent
months, Cohen wonders about the
future of an increasingly polarized city
where young Israelis are leaving in
droves and matters of religion outweigh
matters of the soul:
Surprisingly, he is not bitter with the
Palestinians; he still employs the same
Arab workers who were there the night
of the attack. "I'm still a peace guy," he
says, acknowledging that the bombing
of his restaurant was political. Blithe is
also a broken man with an uncertain
future who will never know why so
many people had to die in the place he
built. "Sometimes, I think it would have
been better if I had died that night," he
says, noting that he was saved because
he was standing behind an espresso
Cohen points to the entrance of the
bar, 15 feet from our table. That's where
the Palestinian man changed everyone's
lives, he says. That's where 11 Israelis
died and where the ceiling collapsed.
That's where the four people were sitting
upright in front of their drinks when
they were found dead. That's where the
Appeasement And Defeatism
Living in Israel gave me immense satis-
faction about being Jewish, and my life
since then has given me happiness
beyond my wildest imaginings. With
this, I have come to realize that my life is
complete once I attend to my giving.
My responsibility to my family, my
friends, my community, Israel and the
world is to give with my heart and my
The Jewish Federation of \Vashtenaw
County's Annual Campaign serves our
families, our friend's, our neighbors, our
community and the world. Our cam-
pai,gn raises the crucial dollars needed to
save Jewish lives, improve the life of Jews
throughout the world and to expand our
vibrant Jewish community here in
When I enter my synagogue this Rosh
Hashanah and ask forgiveness for my
sins, I enter with a soul enriched by
what I get from and give to my Jewish
community, here, in Israel and through-
out the world.
finally, I am able to pour out the
anguish that has resulted from
watching Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon dismantle the land of the
Jews. Moshe Dann, Detroit Jewish News
contributor, living for years in Israel,
supplied me with a phrase that opened
the emotional floodgates.
I had e-mailed him a simple question,
"What is going on?"
He replied, "Ehud Olmert's [Sharon's
deputy prime minister] latest statement
says it all: 'unilateral withdrawal to
whatever the international community
Moshe calls it "the policy of defeatism
and appeasement." How perfect!
Who then is running Israel, the sup-
posed land of the Jews? The "interna-
tional community?" Certainly not the
Did they leave one ignoble diaspora
existence where their destiny was dictat-
ed by others to create another entity,
Jerome S. Kaufman is a Bloomfield
corridor along the
supposedly of their own,
Mediterranean coast in which a
wherein these same powers
much smaller Israeli population
control the lives of the Jews?
existed prior to the Six-Day
Leslie Susser of the Jewish
War in 1967. This is to be the
Telegraphic Agency writes of
dictated destiny of the Jews
"quick action" by Sharon, avert-
while the Arabs expand all over
ing a "showdown" with the
Judea and Samaria and, of
United States over "settlement
course, in so-called Israel proper
building in the West Bank
KAU F MAN and Jerusalem itself!
[Judea and Samaria]."
What is this garbage about
How did Sharon avert this
negative demographics in Israel?
"showdown?" By a policy of
The Arabs don't even need
appeasement and defeatism,"
demographics. Whole masses of
tiny Israel are being given to
You may remember that
them by the Israelis themselves in this
Sharon had coerced his cabinet to
insane policy of "appeasement and
approve a preposterous road map plan
in 2003 designed by Israel's "friends" —
the United Nations, European Union,
Russians and American Department of
State. Sharon, in the document, agreed
By the way, what was to have been the
to dismantle "illegal" settlements and
Arab obligations under the infamous
not expand existing ones.
road map, now a companion piece to
The Israelis are thus to remain in
the disastrous Oslo "peace" accords?
what Abba Eban called the 'Auschwitz
borders of the former Green Line" — a
KAUFMAN on page 74