Apples of Gold Nov/Dec 2014

Now that the Six-Day War [June 1967] is over, I was thinking the Arabs may leave us alone. But it is not so. They are preparing much trouble. I was away for three days with my military unit but was not given the joy of home or family for I am again called up to patrol in Jerusalem to look for mines in the city.

The Arabs try to sneak mines in all the time. Trying to locate them is a dangerous job. The Arabs plant grenades, mines, and time bombs. When we discover one, we must dismantle it right away; and that can mean the last moment of your life.

I am tired of war. For 10 years I have been under arms all the time. So far the Lord has spared me. But how soon will my time come?

I went on patrol along the dark streets of Jerusalem with a partner, and we went to Mea Shearim, the quarter where the ultra-Orthodox live. It was 3 A.M. I was exhausted from a night of patrolling.

Suddenly, I heard the cry, “Steht auf zu Sliches!” meaning “Get up to say the prayers of repentance,” the customary prayers before the Day of Atonement.

As the men shouted, they knocked on every door and called people to go to the synagogue. When they noticed us, they invited us for a cup of tea. We gladly went inside to warm our chilled bones.

After I had my tea and listened for a while, one of the ultra-Orthodox men asked whether we were also going to the synagogue for the prayers of repentance. “No, I do not say the prayers of repentance because I don’t need to,” I told them. “I have asked the Lord to forgive me, and He died once for all.”

The man said to me, “You talk like a goy [Gentile].”

I said to him, “All night I have been patrolling the streets and guarding you so that you could sleep without fear and be able to go to the Wailing Wall or the synagogue to pray when you want.”

His wife asked me, “Are you without faith?”

“No,” I replied. “I have faith, and I believe in the living God as revealed by the prophets.”

The man then said, “There is something about you I don’t like. I can smell a rat.”

“Well,” I said, “Just to relieve your mind, I will tell you straight out I am a Messianic Jew. I believe in the Messiah.”

As soon as he heard that, he screamed, “Gevalt! [horrors]. Whom did I invite into my house?”

I replied, “Maybe it was the Lord’s guidance so that you might hear the truth.”

“What have you done?” he said. “It is not too late. You can still repent.”

He asked me how it happened that I came to believe like a goy. I told him my whole story and how I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior and in what darkness I lived before I found Him. He took out a big red handkerchief, about a square yard in size, and started wiping away his sweat. As long as I spoke, there was perfect silence. When I finished, I asked his wife, “Would you please give me another cup of tea?”

As I drank the second cup of tea, I continued my testimony. “Now that you have heard me, are you still going to the synagogue to repeat your customary prayers and offer a rooster for a sacrifice?”

The Orthodox have a ceremony called kapparot, or kappores, where a chicken or rooster is swung over their heads while they pray, “This is my exchange. This is my substitute. This is my atonement. This chicken will die, but I will have a long life and peace.” Then the chicken is slaughtered.

The man said to his wife, “What do you say to this?”

She answered, “I am asking you that question. You were the one who invited him. Why don’t you answer him?”

He said, “I will give my answer to the newspapers, and you are going to read about it.” I told him I would be honored if he told all of Israel about me.

Then I said goodbye and continued patrolling the streets so that they could continue going to the synagogue and offer prayers of repentance.

by Zvi Kalisher in Jerusalem,
from The Friends of Israel Archives, 1968

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