The party is over. Life as I knew it over the past 13 days is done! Jerry has landed, back from the Holy Land. Gone are the days when I went to bed and woke up in the morning to find everything exactly as it was the night before — and let’s not forget the snoring.
Over the past 3-1/2 years, Jerry has traveled to Israel for the brit milahs of his son Yoni and daughter-in-law Esther’s three youngest sons — Noah, Yedidya, and now Yishai Adam. This last visit was doubly sweet, as his daughter Jordana (not to be confused with my daughter Jordana) also had a baby two weeks earlier, so he had a lot to celebrate.
Jerry landed at 5:25 pm, after sleeping only a couple of hours on the flight. As soon as he got to his son in Efrat, the excitement began. He didn’t get much sleep that night either. They all rose early the next morning for the bris.
As was the case for the older two boys, a dear friend of Yoni’s, Ben Yishai, was the mohel. He and Jerry are kindred spirits, and always enjoy singing and spending time together. The bris was beautiful and warm with lots of singing led by the mohel, Ben.
Later, Yoni told Jerry that his close friend Tom and his band would be giving a concert later that night at a local joint, and he should embrace a night of great music despite his exhaustion. Yoni negotiated the back roads of Efrat and then he mysteriously turned onto a dark dirt road. His headlights lit up a sign that read, forebodingly, “DO NOT ENTER! AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY!”
Jerry gasped. Yoni informed him that they were going to the Red Line, and explained that he and his friends went there regularly for concerts. Jerry heard of the Green Line, but never red. He was sure that Yoni was cavalierly driving them into no man’s land, frequented by Israelis and Palestinians alike, for a concert.
When they got there, Jerry noted that all of Yoni’s friends were armed. He was beside himself, but began to calm down. The music was fantastic, and Yoni and his friends compelled him to have a few beers and other drinks, to put him in the proper mood for a great concert at the precarious Red Line. (Jerry, by the way, thinks “drinking” means adding a splash of Malaga wine to grape juice).
He pondered what to do. His children were adults, and he endeavored never to meddle. He also knew that as Joszefs, they would do their own thing anyway. Silence was golden. When they got home, he finally asked Yoni why he would go to the dangerous Red Line for a concert, or for any reason. Yoni began to laugh. The concert, he explained, was at the Red Lion Pub.
By now it was really late, and Jerry was practically incoherent from exhaustion, compounded with inebriation. He popped in his earplugs, hoping to drift off into the sweet peace of a long night’s sleep.
During the night, he dreamed that Ben, the mohel, was standing at the foot of his bed à la Fruma Sarah in Tevye’s nightmare. He appeared to be beckoning Jerry to join him on a journey into the unknown. The vision was soundlessly singing as passionately as Ben had at the bris that morning, his eyes closed, his face radiating ecstasy. The dream took a turn for the surreal when the celestial spirit gently tapped Jerry on the shoulder.
Jerry began to ponder the meaning of this nocturnal encounter with the spirit of the mohel. Might he be compelled to wrestle with an angel and emerge victorious, but wounded? He pulled his earplugs out, and was stunned to hear the voice of Ben actually singing to him. The apparition stopped singing for a moment and told Jerry to quickly get dressed as they would be late to the early morning Rosh Chodesh davening.
Jerry stumbled around in a stupor, trying to understand the moment. Could it be that he had made plans with Ben the day before, at the bris, in his overwhelmingly exhausted state? He had no memory of that at all! He felt compelled to meticulously follow Ben’s instructions, fearing that he could morph into Fruma Sarah at any moment.
After Rosh Chodesh davening, Ben asked Jerry what he wanted to do next. Jerry mentioned that he’d love to head back to bed. He thanked Ben, who smiled broadly and said, “That’s great! I’m going to be the mohel at another bris on the other side of town soon, and I am overjoyed that you agree to accompany me.” Jerry had made no such promise, but he was outmatched by Ben’s passion.
Off they flew to fulfill Ben’s Don Quixotic quest, with Jerry playing Sancho Panza. He tried as best as he could to be inconspicuous, which was impossible in the intimate gathering of close friends and family at this bris. He was relieved when the ceremony ended, hoping to crawl back into bed, until Ben informed him that he was invited to the seudah as an honored guest. He protested, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
When the speeches and festivities ended, Jerry thought that perhaps now he could get to bed. Ben asked what he wanted to do next. “Go to sleep?” Jerry hazarded. Ben excitedly retorted, “I have a great idea — I know a great bakery and we can buy the best freshest challahs in town lekavod Shabbat.” And off they flew to the next adventure.
Finally, hours after the commencement of his dream with Ben, Jerry returned from Never-ever-again Land to Yoni’s home. By this time he was way too exhausted to “sleep, perchance to dream, ay, there’s the rub…”—Hamlet
Since I don’t have much room left for a long recipe, and you should have already prepared your Thanksgiving dinner by now, here’s an easy recipe for a great cocktail … and no, Jerry, you can’t have one.
Red Lion Cocktail
By Mike Di Tota at BarNotes
1-1/2 oz. Old Overholt rye whiskey
1/2 oz. Aperol Liqueur
1-1/2 oz. watermelon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lemon juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Watermelon rind twist for garnish
Add all ingredients into a mixing can. Shake with ice and strain into old-fashioned glasses filled with ice. Garnish with watermelon rind twist.