The Visitor

Article excerpt

When did I first hear of that little land that held such big sway? Not the ancient land to which Abraham was commanded to migrate; not the one where the matriarchs and patriarchs were laid to rest; nor the kingdom of Saul, David, and Solomon? Not the land the ten lost tribes had to abandon at sword point or the polity where the prophets railed at back-sliders and fetishists in love with the female spirits of trees? But the new land, redrawn out of a new story, shaping a bold new direction in our communal lives.

Probably at the Montreal Hebrew Academy where we were first introduced to the personages of the Bible, in a simplified Hebrew accompanied with line-drawings that were serious and not exaggerated like the characters in Classic Illustrated Comics.

One day we were ordered to close our books, in mid class, and set out for the large school auditorium. Everyone was in attendance from kindergarten up. What a noise and commotion until we were shushed quiet. And then, as if just uttered, the principal introduced the person for whom we changed the rhythm of our days. "Children," he bellowed, "here is the prime minister of the State of Israel!"

I strained to see who it was. A short, stocky little man, with wisps of white hair on both sides of his skull, not unlike my grandfather, who then proceeded to speak as if in harangue. What did he really want?--I asked myself years later. What did he actually say?

We were led back to our classrooms, the exercise was done, and the usual routine of lessons followed. …