Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Hanukkah in Hawaii

“Why a TB test?”, I ask.  “Just a precaution, the nurse answers.” Also you’ll need a chest X-ray.  Yeh, that’s all I need. “Take a good breath,” she says. No problem, and I suck the air in deep, bragging “You know, I’m a saxophone player.” So I fill up my lungs and hold…she shouts, in a slight panic ,”OK you can let it go,” but like the gibur I am I hold..(Now I’ll show her!..) Another one, she says.  “Hold it!”  OK, that’s it.  I walk out to the sickees hall and wait for my CD, not exactly an opus production.  I’m waiting there in this bizarre place in Makor Baruch, something third worldly with modern bathrooms.

Suddenly, what’s app rings.  OMG. It’s Cousin Sherry from Hawaii, via video chat!  Hi Stephen! The woman at the desk looks at me like I’m crazy.  I say to her, “It’s Hawaii”! and turn the phone around; the desk woman waves energetically to my cousin.  (Oh, how wonderful it is to be in Israel!).

Sherry and I talk, mostly about health.  Her purple muumuu cries out.  “You know, few wear this traditional garb any more.  Just old people — she cut her tongue — and a few of us others (she is turning 70, as did I!). She asks, “Did you have a latke?” Yes, I had two!…”Did I tell you about our bird whose life we saved, a dove; we fed it small worms, then grains, until he was big enough to fly away; but you know, he visits us every morning, like clockwork!”  (She doesn’t remember that she told me the story several times before, but I listen intently anyways!).  We talk through the cab ride.  I introduce her to the driver, who doesn’t know what is happening!  “It’s my cousin from Hawaii.” He smiles to the camera.

Returning home, I attend to my daughter who suffers from a migraine. I forget my TB. I think to myself, I love Jerusalem’s sunshine, though I never saved a bird. I think about the trip I dream of taking, first to Japan, then to Hawaii, then to every US National park I have never seen — and that’s most of them.

Meanwhile, on top of Mauna Loa, there’s an eruption. An enormous cloud appears. It’s in the shape of a sufgania.  The entire Big Island says a prayer to the cloud.  As the cloud moves over the island, people marvel that it lasts eight days.

There’s a knock on the door. Some guests arrive: Tzafta Susann, Adam, Idit, and their son Ashrei.  Adam is a goat shepherd, and they all live in a yurt   I’ve always wanted to live in a yurt, though the part about the goats I think I could dispense with.  Adam hears about my call, and says, “Do you know that the antipodal straight line from Israel lands on Hawaii?”  No, I did not know that.  “And further more, the traditional leader of the Hawaiian indigenous people was called the Kahuna?”  Wow, I thought! One of the lost tribes? Maybe the Coen brothers could make something about that… And so ends a remarkable day.

noun: kahuna; plural noun: kahunas
  1. (in Hawaii) a wise man or shaman.
    • informalNorth American
      an important person; the person in charge.
      “one big kahuna runs the whole show”
    • informalNorth American
      (in surfing) a very large wave.

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About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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