So I’m in a Jerusalem grocery store the other night, a tad out of my area, in the middle of a rainstorm. I am not talking about drizzle, I am talking about a full on, torrential storm with lightning and the kind of rain and cold that gets into your bones.
The parking lot looks like something out of a horror film or three days before Christmas in North America – cars abandoned and people running into shops and cafes to get some respite from the rain. It is not my usual hangout at 5 p.m., but I’ve just dropped off one kid at a friend’s and I’ve got another hour before I need to pick up another and then another whose practice was canceled because…rain!
So I run in to get more vanilla tea, because, frankly, one can’t own too much vanilla tea. If, like me, you don’t drink coffee, vanilla tea with almond milk is the next best thing. My boots are sopping wet and my umbrella worse for wear. It’s a typical scene at the store. Moti is screaming a bit too loudly for his wife Hila to pick up the soup nuts for Yaheli’s dinner. One mom with twins looks completely frazzled, as Twin One is about to fall out of the stroller and Twin Two is having a tantrum about Crembo wrappers getting stuck in her red Moana coat zipper. It’s the witching hour for that age and I’m quietly thankful my kids have outgrown it.
And then this guy, who literally looks like Indiana Jones, waltzes in. He’s wearing the get-up and all, and he looks completely out of place, like he took a wrong turn in late August, his sun-seared skin and khaki clothes longing for those scorching hot summer Israeli days, while his neighbors look like drowned rats, umbrellas in tow, wool hats around their ears. Israelis, for the most part, do not do winter. Rain is a blessing, but the driving and dripping and stone-cold houses do not lend themselves to fun December nights at the local supermarket.
My thoughts are interrupted by some noise in Aisle 10.
Apparently, Hila, who was hunting for her son’s soup nuts for dinner, has gone into early labor and her husband Moti is quite concerned. He is rambling on about how her first delivery was a risky one and that baby is coming fast and it’s too early…
Turns out that our Indiana Jones look-alike is an ob-gyn doctor (only in Israel) and because of the relatively close proximity to Hadassah hospital, there are two off-duty nurses and myself, a doula, there, along with the many other worried Israelis who had been in Aisles 8 and 4, and who made our way over to Hila with towels and fluffy coats in hand.
Someone called an ambulance, while the twins’ mother, recognizing Hila and Moti’s son Yaheli, took him aside to get him a treat and let Moti really concentrate on Hila.
There was some blood and vomiting, and there was beautiful and brave Hila, and there was much excitement and there was a baby on the way…earlier than expected and in the craziest rainstorm of the season, but on the way nonetheless!
“B’sha’a tovah [An auspicious time],” I hear shoppers calling out the greeting for a pregnancy.
“Bring more towels and coats to keep the new baby warm,” an elderly woman shouts to the other shoppers. “Quickly, quickly,” she persists. A young Orthodox woman starts reciting Tehillim — Psalms — and a few teen shoppers offer any help that is needed. And so while the twins ate their Crembos and the rain poured down, the entire supermarket cheered for the safe arrival of Hila and Moti’s second child in Aisle 10. One of the nurses was concerned about the baby’s position and then the paramedics arrived, just in time. All the shoppers and Dr. Indiana accompanied the excited and nervous laboring eema and abba out the doors.
May Hila and Moti have good news, and may little Yaheli enjoy being a big brother. It took a village on a miserable and cold Jerusalem evening.
This is my Israel!