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In Exile, at Home — “Necessary Stories” column from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

The stranger wore a threadbare black sports jacket that looked like it might have come from a second-hand shop and a dusty black kipah. He stroked his short beard as he walked up and down the rows of graves as the ox plows, stopping for a few beats at each to read the headstone. In the row in front of me he had to detour around t-shirt and shorts-clad twenty-somethings from a Birthright group, listening to a guide I couldn’t hear. Finally he arrived at the last full row, the one where I sat, with the lawn in front of it waiting for new tragedies.

He nodded at me, hugging himself. I nodded back. After a moment of hesitation he spoke.

“It’s cold here in Jerusalem,” he said

I shrugged. “Here we’re used to the seasons starting to change the week before Rosh Hashannah. You must be from someplace warmer. Tel Aviv?”

“Tiberias,” he said. “Also Sura.”

I looked at him quizzically. “You mean the one just west of the Euphrates?” Continue reading In Exile, at Home — “Necessary Stories” column from The Jerusalem Report