About a week ago our brilliant producer had a catheter shoved up through his groin to his heart for some periodic maintenance, spent four days in the hospital, and was then laid up for a week. So how could I say no when he asked for a delivery of cigarettes and diet coke?
At the same time I was picking up his relief supplies, I popped into an upscale Jerusalem wine and cheese shop to look for a box of European chocolates. Logistical hassles had forced us to miss two meetings in a row with a member of Hamas. Maybe some chocolates, preferably from a left leaning European country, would smooth things over.
The producer staggered downstairs from his apartment for his pain killers, looking a little less pale, but in a rush because he had a diaper to change. I pulled away in my sleek new black Malibu, undaunted and with side view mirrors intact, even a full day after I got the keys. The phone rang and it was good news. Rabbi Fruman of Tekoa could see us that night.
We had been trying to meet Rabbi Fruman for a couple of nights. He has his good days and bad days, but tonight he was feeling up to it. I picked up the DP and we headed into the rainy West Bank night.
Wind and rain battered Tekoa. We entered Rabbi Fruman’s house and set up. The Rabbi was remarkably on the ball — in fact, he was on the phone with an important state official, discussing the draft of an official Israeli statement on the situation in Syria. He turned on the radio to monitor the latest developments.
At first we had only 20 minutes before the rabbi needed to leave for evening prayer. I had a few questions that I felt were essential. The first time I interviewed the rabbi, I asked only one question: “what do you think is important.” These were my foliow ups. The rabbi politely stopped the interview when it was time, and with his wife’ s helps, he got onto his electric cart and rolled off toward the shul at grand prix speed.
We raced to the shul to film prayers through the windows, then raced back for an exterior shot of the house. The rabbi happened to arrive right as we were shooting, and, to my surprise, he warmly welcomed us back into the house. He said we had until his doctor arrived. We talked more. Everything the rabbi says is profound, with the exception of the many moments of humor, and sometimes even some rabbinical giggling. We left after gaining an audience of an extra 45 minutes, and I drove back in a joyous state.
The trip has gone exceedingly well. We’ve interviewed a second Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. We witnessed Mohammad Tamimi’s new magazine, Resist!, roll off the presses. We visited Aaron of Esh Kodesh, as the days long hell storm raged, and saw his new house, almost completed, overlooking the flooded valleys below. We saw Hagit Ofran appear at a meeting in the Knesset, a discussion of the situation of the Migron outpost, the community slated to be evacuated by the end of March if a settlement is not reached (and it looks like one will be).
Today it snowed. The first time in many years. In the morning, flakes were coming down in Jerusalem. We headed for Tekoa again, this time to see Rabbi Fruman and his son Shivi meet with a group of theater students from Tel Aviv. Turns out that was snowed out, but we met up with Shivi and his family near Tekoa, where they were playing in the snow.
Settlers, and a few Palestinians, had pulled off the road to frolic in a particularly deep patch. There was a small hill. Shivi slid down on a small plastic sled. Then Shivi left to go get his father.
About a half hour later, we followed the Frumans, paparazzi that we are, to the settlement of Efrata. The car pulled over to the curb, and the rabbi opened his door to boyishly relish the snow.
I was standing nearby, in directorial detachment.
The rabbi called to me. “Come here, I have something to tell you very important about peace in the Holy Land.” I approached him reverentially. He then got me in the chest with a snowball, fired underhand. “The white intifada,” he declared.