This is real-life story. It happened twenty-three years ago and some of the details might be a bit fuzzy but the essence of the story is one hundred percent true. The beginning took place after we had been living in Israel for just three years. Not long after moving to Shilo we knew we wanted to make it our permanent home. We began plans for building our house.
Our lot was chosen across the street from Rabbi B. A blueprint was made and permits received. We broke ground and the foundation was laid around the same time we received an American invitation in the mail. This invitation was to a Bar Mitzvah celebration. Our oldest son’s classmate from Phoenix would be having his Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem. The three of us were invited to a celebratory luncheon.
We went eagerly. It was fun to meet up with former Phoenicians as well as to meet other Americans who were sharing in our friends’ celebration. Sitting next to us were our good friends from Phoenix. Across from us was a young man, whom I will call Charlie. Charlie was a distant relative of the Bar Mitzvah boy’s mother. He was from the eastern seaboard but apparently was in the process of moving to Israel.
Charlie talked a lot about himself. He was one of those people who like to impress others with the exciting things they have done with their life. He proudly told us that he was living in the West Bank settlement of Shilo. Had we ever heard of it?
At that time Shilo had less than one hundred families so we were quite surprised to learn that this guy lived there and we did not know him. On the other hand, Shilo is built on a hill. We lived at the top and the yeshiva was then at the bottom. Perhaps Charlie was learning in the yeshiva? No, he had learned in an American program there several years earlier and came back to build his own home. Where was he building?
Well, he began to play that famous game of Jewish geography. “Do you know Mr. this and Mrs. that?” Of course we did. “How about Rabbi B?” “For sure.” “I’m building my house across the street from him.”
My mouth fell open. Had Charlie stole our building site right out from under us? My husband was speechless. Our friend, quick on his feet, saved the day.
“What an amazing coincidence. They are building a house right across from Rabbi B, also.”
Suddenly Charlie did not seem as sure of himself as he had minutes earlier. He began to stutter somewhat and explain that he hoped to build a house near Rabbi B. I had to feel sorry for the young man. He had thought he would impress us and instead he had made a fool of himself. I never saw him again and he never did build a house in Shilo.
Back then, before the advent of internet, face book, and twitter, it was a very small world if you were Jewish. Now it is even smaller. So, learn from Charlie. Tell the truth so you won’t get caught in a lie.