April 01, 2013

The Sign on the Doorpost

It's been a great Pesach here in Jerusalem - always such wonderful sights, sounds and smells from the burning of the chametz to people dashing in all directions preparing for the Seder and the songs of the Hagaddah wafting from every building throughout the evening.

Friday night we were invited to friends and were astonished to see a black chassid sitting at the table. 

Here in Israel we are very accustomed to seeing African Jews - but rarely in sidelocks and such serious chassidic garb.  And this was not one of the many thousands of our  Ethiopian immigrants - but a West Indian of Jamaican parentage almost as black his traditional chassidic topcoat and hat.

I tell this story not as one of my usual ripostes to the canard of Israel Apartheid. It is just about a really charming fellow and to share his heartwarming story.

As if the appearance was not striking enough, he introduced himself with a strong east-London cockney accent before launching into a faultless kiddush, all by heart.

Needless to say, everyone wanted to know what brought him to Judaism, Israel and Chassidism.

Turns out, his family lived in a house formerly owned by Jews.  At the age of 9 he got to wondering what the tiny box screwed to the doorpost was all about. So when the builders came to renew the door, he unscrewed the box -  the mezzuzah - and took out the parchment from within. 

Unable to decipher the hieroglyphs, he took it to one of the many Jewish neighbors in the area who read it to him and explained why it goes onto the doorposts of Jewish homes.

From that little mezzuzah, he became interested and then enchanted with the  faith, its history and heritage, and 22 years ago came to Israel as a Jewish convert. He loves the life here and the way people have taken him into their hearts. Two of his 3 children are already serving in the army.

The festival of Pesach is all about doorposts - that, on the night of the 10th plague, G-d passed over the homes of  Jews in Egypt who had put a sign on their doorposts. 

Clearly it's still working.

Add to Technorati Favorites Tweets by @ZalmiU