Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Kislev 5766 - December 14, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 7 — Dean in Jerusalem (July 2000) — Part 1

Escaping from criminals who seem to want to harm him, and seem to be behind the mysterious disappearance of his parents on a trip to South America, Dean has swiftly and suddenly joined a group of yeshiva boys going to the airport and from there caught a flight for Israel. He looks like a yeshiva boy, but he is fresh from Harvard Business School.


The voice that woke Dean seemed to come from far away. Slowly he became aware of his surroundings. His body felt cramped and stiff. For a moment he wondered where he was. Then the events of the previous day flooded into him and he heard the voice saying, "Good morning, ladies, and gentlemen. The time in Israel is seven o'clock. We will be landing in two hours. The weather is hot and pleasant. Please put your chairs in an upright position as we are about to serve breakfast."

Dean looked at his watch, and then he looked at the rising sun. Overnight seven hours had disappeared. It was not the middle of the night. It was morning, a new day, with a whole host of imponderable problems ahead of him.

The passport had allowed him out of New York. Would it allow him into Israel? Had the lost passport been reported? Would someone link the passport to his disappearance? Would Federal agents, or the Israeli police, or worse, men with guns hidden beneath dark suits, be waiting for him?

Dean decided that he must act normally. He wiped his hands and face with the hot moist towels passed around. He ate the food in the tray. He filled in the forms that were passed around before arrival. As he was looking for the passport number he saw for the first time an envelope fixed in between the pages. Dean pulled it out and saw that inside were four crisp one hundred dollar notes. The address on the envelope was Mir Yeshiva, Jerusalem. Now he knew where his first stop must be, if he succeeded in getting through passport control. The idea that he had a destination brought some degree of calm.

The plane taxied down and as it hit the ground everyone began clapping. In spite of his growing tension Dean grinned as this happened. All the traveling he had done, so many different places, this was the first time that landing was greeted with such euphoria. Unhampered by anything other than his small overnight case Dean strode ahead of the passengers and was soon through passport control.

One international airport was much like another, Dean realized, as he asked the taxi if he would take dollars and was rewarded with a nod of the head and a grin. Soon he was in a taxi on his way to Jerusalem.

At last Dean began to relax. If no one knew where he was, then he had a chance. True, he had very little money and no passport of his own, but he was alive and fit and well. Maybe he could find some sort of work, somewhere to live, and somewhere to keep going while he tried to decide what to do.

Dean knew that he must first find out what had happened to his parents. He felt that New York was less than safe for him at the moment. It was all like a bad dream, yet surely there was a solution. He clung to the hope that his parents would re-appear, though the way their employee had spoken had filled him with dread and fear for their safety.

He was an American citizen. He had rights. He would make use of them. He tried to think positive and determined thoughts as the taxi entered a narrow rocky defile and climbed up to the city of Jerusalem.

The taxi was now entering the outskirts of the city; soon he was meandering in a crazy patchwork of narrow streets. He stopped in front of a old white building. "Mir Yeshiva. Fifty dollars." Said the cab driver.

Dean walked up some steps into a dim hallway. He saw a door with a sign on it and knocked. When a voice called out to him, he entered.

He saw an old desk piled high with books and documents. Behind it sat a man with a long white beard, all dressed in black. Dean wanted to get this part over as quickly as possible.

He pulled out the passport from his pocket and he placed it on the desk. "I found this passport in the airport in New York City. It has money and an envelope inside. Please could you return it to the owner as soon as possible."

The deed was done. He turned to leave.

"Just a moment, just a moment. Why did you bring this here instead of handing it in? Ah, I see, you made use of it to come into the country. Young man, I went through many dangerous times when I was younger. Did you know that fear has a particular smell? You are afraid. Why? What have you done that you must use a stranger's passport?"

The voice was calm and quiet. Dean heard it and wondered what to say. He wanted to go. He wanted to book into a good hotel and have a long hot bath and stretch out on a comfortable bed. He wanted to be alone, to think about how to proceed.

Instead he remained. He sat down and heard himself pour out all the events of the past twenty-four hours. When he had finished there were some moments of silence.

Someone knocked at the door and peeped in. "Come back tonight," said the old man. Still Dean sat silent.

Eventually the man said. "So now what are you going to do?"

Dean knew that for the first time since he had heard those voices in the Manhattan apartment he felt safe. Who would think to look for him in such a place?

"Could I stay here?" he said. He opened his case and took out of it the remainder of the money, the credit cards, and the thick brown envelope that had been alongside the money. As he placed it on the desk it tore open. Shares from his father's firm tumbled out and his grandfather's old prayer book and a folded document. Whatever the cost of staying here was, surely the dollars and the share certificates would cover it.

The Rabbi showed no interest in the dollars, but he looked first at the prayer book and then at the certificate. "Your parent's kesuba" he said.

"This is a place of learning," said the rabbi. "Where did you learn?"

He looked hard at Dean and his non-existent sideburns.

"I'm in my third year at the Harvard business school," Dean answered.

"No, I'm asking about Torah learning, Jewish learning," the Rabbi said.

Now Dean was silent. He tried to remember the prayer he had said before being called up to read the law on his bar mitzvah day, but it had been long ago, and the words eluded him.

"The boys who are here have been learning since they were three years old. How would it be if you were here? What do you know? Nothing! You would stand out like an onion in a petunia patch, as they say where you come from. No, we must find another solution."


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