Israel Stories

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Doorman

Knock, knock, what do you want? I want to see the shul. Knock, knock, yes what is it? Can I come in? Yes hold on. Knock, knock, I’ve been waiting for five minutes can I come in? Just wait. Then I heard the lock slide open but instead of the shul door open, a small side door adjacent to the shul opened. It was an outside toilet.

“Look I’m really sorry”, I said looking down at the floor, in fact looking everywhere to avoid his eyes. Without a word he removed the most enormous bunch of keys I had ever seen. I actually marveled how it was possible to remove such a large bunch of keys from such a small pocket, and then I remembered something someone had once said to me about childbirth, and kept quiet.

“In you go”, he said. “Don’t touch anything, don’t remove any of the books and don’t stand on the bima or open the aron hakodesh or any of the windows. Keep all the seats upright, don’t mess up the carpet and don’t touch the light switches!” “Anything else?” I mumbled, “Yes” he said to my utter disbelief, “this is a privately funded shul, we rely on donations, please don’t forget to give!”

The Kairo shul (spelt several different ways) is one of the famous shuls in Sfat (also spelt several different ways). It may not be the most beautiful of all of them but it holds a certain charm and mysticism that makes a trip to Sfat worth it, oh, and the Canaan Spa Hotel.

“Have you finished yet?” he called. “No I’ll be a few minutes more”, I called back, frantically taking photos of every nook and cranny. “Ok” he called, “take your time”. He’s’ changed his tune I thought but then didn’t think anymore about it.

“I’m all done here, thanks”, I called, no answer. “I said I am all done here, thanks”, still no answer.

I left the shul taking one last photo of the door, then turned to go. As I did I heard a rush of water, and the small side door to the outside toilet opened.

“Oh your off then, did you leave some money?” he asked. I nodded. “Good, thanks for coming, oh and one last thing, don’t eat at Rami’s falafel today, bad batch!” Then he disappeared back through the side door.


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