Here I am, another late afternoon just me and my computer in my cubicle, working on a presentation about a highly competitive, cutting edge device guaranteed to eclipse background noise on cellphone calls. When lo and behold, out of Kafka land, drums roll and trumpets blast from down on Shenkar Street, penetrating double-glazed windows and shattering the notion that background noise can, or should, be silenced.
“Oy, yo, yo, yo, yo, Mashiach!”
Is the mashiach really here in the heart of Israel’s most elite high-tech neighborhood? Is he riding a white donkey?
I jump up to the window, throw it open and lean out. The black-and-white street is flooded in color. Young drummers dressed in red, black hats dancing in delirious circles, a white truck crowned in gold sparkling in blue-and-red and studded with loudspeakers, women in glossy wigs and shiny scarves pushing baby carriages, a Filipina pushing her elderly ward in a wheelchair, and blue-and-white police cars sealing off the rejoicing masses. Throngs of onlookers are agape, pointing and snapping photos from their cellphones.
And in the middle of all of this hullaballoo and its raison d’etre: a Torah. A brand new Torah being welcomed into the fold. Hidden modestly under a canopy of red velvet draped over four poles, it is barely visible from where I stand on the second floor of a corporate office. So I rush downstairs to greet it.
I run toward the canopy, edging my way past a young, camera-bearing follower of the Orthodox faith.
“The women’s section is back there!” he shouts, pointing.
I look at him in disbelief. He keeps pointing. I have no choice but to set him straight.
“This isn’t your street. It’s public. And I work here, so that makes it more my street than yours.”
I show him my exposed shoulders, hoping to make him turn away. He does, but this doesn’t stop him from growling in my general direction.
“This street is now a synagogue. Go back, I said!”
“Like hell!” I say, thrusting my cellphone camera into the holy circle.
Lucky for me, the Torah is immune to my bare shoulders. It lets me photograph it being passed from one man’s hands to another’s, leaving one shoulder to be cradled in the next, some broad, others bent, all grateful. It lets me shoot it being made such a fuss over. I want to kiss my fingers and extend them to the Torah, but this seems more than the crowd can tolerate.
Even from a few arms’ length away, though, I know it feels my joy. I know it knows that I will not give up on it, that its heritage is mine.
The parade moves slowly down the street, hugged at the rear by rush hour traffic. Not a horn is honked, not a complaint is heard ̶ well, maybe because the noise of celebration reigns supreme.
I head back into my office, cheering silently for the Torah.