Yom Hazikaron: there will be no baptism (The Canadian Jewish News)

logo 2014Avrum Rosensweig, The CJN, Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yoram’s leg stuck out of the bunker – enough so that his commander barked at him to tuck it in. His instruction was a mild inconvenience but could save Yoram’s leg.

Yoram’s plugah (unit) had bunkered down in Khan Yunis preparing for a major Israel Defence Forces attack on a street known for hiding Hamas leadership.

The private’s iPhone chirped out a bird call, perhaps a raven, notifying him of a text message from his friend in Toronto, Noah. It was against army policy to have a cellphone in Gaza, but Yoram had turned on the appropriate security. He shouldn’t be tracked by terrorists. “Besides,” Yoram laughed quietly but with attitude, “the chutzpah of the IDF.”

“Where are you now?” Noah texted.

“I’m in Gaza,” Yoram responded. “Where are you?”

“I’m in sociology class in Convocation Hall,” Noah answered. “I’m sitting next to a beautiful woman. She doesn’t look Jewish.”

An explosion went off nearby. Grey and brown calcareous sandstone bounced off of Yoram’s helmet. Hamas operatives knew the Israelis were there. He wiped his eyes. No casualties. Thank God.

“Go ask her if she’s Jewish,” Yoram texted Noah. “I’ll wait. Nothing much happening here. Only a few bullets – lol.”

A minute went by. The 18-year-old Yerushalmi saw a Katyusha rocket flying overhead without majesty.

Yoram texted his friend, Moishe, the keeper of the Iron Dome nearby. “Moishe did you knock this one out?” he asked.

“Like a bat out a’hell,” came the response.

“She’s Jewish,” Noah texted Yoram. “And she has an aunt in Sderot.”

Bursts of machine-gun fire interrupted the boys’ communication. Yoram scrambled to dig deeper into the rock-strewn terra. A bullet whizzed past his ear.

“Yoram. Are you there?” Noah e-yelled. “Yoram. I say she’s Jewish. JEWISH.”

Shamati (I heard),” Yoram texted back. “That’s good. You should date a Jewish girl, Noah. I couldn’t attend a baptism for your son – lol.”

The commander yelled for the troops to evacuate the area – fast! Yoram gathered his gear and looked around to see who needed help. At 18, he was the strongest in his troop. Yoram, the brother of six others, put his arm around the weakest fellow in the unit and led him down the hill to the street.

Noah was perturbed by the orphaned moments between him and his childhood friend when they were growing up in Toronto. The professor asked him to explain Goffman’s theories about total institutions. Noah yammered something, enough to satisfy the lecturer.

“Yoram, are you there?” Noah texted, sensing the battle had begun.


“YORAM ANSWER ME. There will be no baptism. Only a bar mitzvah,” Noah typed in dread, feebly adding, “lol.”

Again silence. The professor asked another question of Noah about Goffman, this time about interactive order. “I don’t know!” Noah yelled out. “We’re under attack! Can’t you see?” the Canadian Jewish student screamed! Everyone stared.

Yoram was down. Blood ran out of his head. The weak boy was crying. A medic arrived. He wrapped Yoram’s wounds. He pumped his chest. Another Katyusha flew overhead. The weak boy sobbed. Yoram’s iPhone played the noise of a bird.

The weak boy grabbed the phone from Yoram’s flak jacket pocket and read the text aloud to the downed soldier.

“There will be no baptism!” he screamed. “Yoram, only a bar mitzvah. Wake up Yoram! Wake up!”

Noah exited the grand college doors.

Yoram was put on a stretcher.

The weak boy typed a note on Yoram’s iPhone. “He won’t wake up.”

Noah fell to the cafeteria floor. He wept.

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