Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Only In Israel

This story is totally true. There are no exaggerations. And I witnessed it all.

It happened on the first day of Chol HaMoed* Pesach. My husband and I eagerly made our way to a small maternity hospital in Bnai Brak in order to meet our less than a day-old granddaughter.  We came without presents. There would be plenty of time for gifts once she and our daughter were safely home.

In Israel it’s usually impossible to enter a hospital without going through a security check and this place was no exception. Inside the guard shack the man working as sentry sat at a table next to the metal detector.
A security checkpoint courtesy of
He checked the visitors’ bags as their owners walked through the aluminum gate. We approached empty handed except for my purse and expected to move quickly. In front of us, though, there was a loud commotion.

One young man was defiantly facing two others who looked like the head of security and a rabbi.

“It’s discrimination against Sephardim**,” he accused them angrily.

They were not impressed with his accusations and raised their voices in response. It didn’t take us long to understand what the problem was.  The young man had a closed package of kosher for Passover kitniyot cookies he wanted to give to his wife or sister or whomever he was visiting.  Now, kitniyot are certain grains and legumes that most Ashkenazi** Jews will not touch on Pesach. For the Sephardim, however, they are perfectly, one hundred percent kosher.

Unfortunately for all the patients, the rabbi and security head could have cared less if the cookies were kitniyot or not. During the week of Passover no one was allowed to bring ANY food into this hospital. Not even a bottle of water my daughter would later testify.

Ungraciously conceding defeat the young man deposited his offending box of goodies with the sentry. Mumbling his resentment he continued on his way and the security head and rabbi returned to whatever they’d been busy with. Now it was our turn to be checked.

As I set my purse on the table my husband took out his wallet and withdrew his gun license. The sentry examined it closely.

“Do you have a weapon?”

My husband pointed to the pistol on his hip.

“Okay, sir, if there’s an incident, please don’t shoot anyone. We’ll take care of it.”

“No problem,” my husband responded good-naturedly and the sentry waved us through.

The moral of this story is that if you’re in Israel during Pesach never, ever try to bring food to a hospital patient. But if you have a gun there’s nothing to worry about as long as you have a license.

Only in Israel!

*intermediate days of Pesach and Sukkot
**Jews of Spanish, Portuguese, North African, and Middle East descent
***Jews of European descent



Batya Medad said...

I love it when the guards trust people that they'll be honest to say whether or not they have a gun. And only if they admit they have one do they ask for the license.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ester
I had a few minutes before shutting down for Shabbat and I am so happy I checked your website first. I love the story of being able to enter the hospital with a gun in Israel during Pesach but not with kitniyot. What a wonderful "only in Israel" story. Warm regards, Phyllis K.

Ester said...

It's so nice to hear from you, Phyllis. Hope all's well..