Thursday, 7 Av 5775


ight had fallen hours before over the collection of shacks known as “Wewak Hospital,” but Joe couldn’t rest for a minute.

“I got an e-mail from the Israeli doctor,” he said to Bernadine, who was trying to fall asleep in her corner of the shack. “He says he won’t eat the meals we’ll be serving.”

Bernadine opened one eye. “Why don’t you get some sleep, Joe? Soon the first bus is coming, and then we’ll be up the rest of the night.”

“He’s religious. He eats only kosher food. Wait, I’ll call Itzik and ask him what we can feed this doctor.”

“Fruits and vegetables are kosher,” Bernadine mumbled. “And fish, if they have no fins or scales. Sara’le told me.”

“That can’t be right… they sell fish with fins and scales all over the shuk in Jerusalem. Salmon, tilapia, mullet…”

“So not all the Jews are religious… But you can give him shrimps or clams. Now, how about some sleep?” she said, turning her back to him and closing her eyes. Did he really have to lose a night’s sleep over this, after the long, hard day’s work they’d put in?

“What if he can’t eat those either?”

“Then he’ll bring canned food.”


Itzik was exhausted from the interrogation, and his brain was foggy. Still, the editor in him couldn’t help wondering who had sat down and compiled such a long, boring list of questions… and then mixed them up so there was no logical order to them.

“You do know that I lean toward the left on the Palestinian question, don’t you?” he’d tried protesting at some point.

“We ask the questions here, not you,” they’d told him impassively. “When did you first meet Chagai and Gideon Levi?”

“I told you, when I first moved into the building. They were little kids then.”

“Where did you learn about physics?”

“On my own. I read a lot.”

“Where were you coming home from on the night of November 19, when you met Chagai and Gideon Levi in front of your building?”

It went on like that for four grueling hours, until finally they let him go. And now he had to walk back in the heat, since, in a burst of health consciousness, he’d decided to leave his CityPass card at home and walk to the Russian Compound. Now he looked ruefully at the light rail train as it passed him by.

His phone rang, and he took it out eagerly, glad, for once, to be distracted. He smiled when he saw the string of numbers on the screen. Another call from the Pacific island paradise! What kind of sh’eilah did they have now?

“Shalom, Itzik.” Joe sounded lively.

“Shalom, Joe. What’s up?”

“I need to know about kosher food. Is it true that you only eat fish without fins and scales?”

“No. Just the opposite. Only fish with fins and scales is kosher. Why?” Itzik pictured some tribesman waving a spear and insisting his father would only eat “what it say in Bible.”

“We have a doctor coming from Israel. He’s a religious Jew, and he needs kosher food. What can we give him to eat?”       (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 721)