The Strangers Within Your Gates / Old World

The Strangers Within Your Gates (Asst 1)

There was nothing like being a Jewish kid that summer the aliens arrived. Messiah fever was spreading like the flu and suddenly being Jewish was the wham. Collin Roarke stopped beating on me and Sharona started laughing jewel-eyed at my jokes. Whether we’d reach the world to come or not, July 2039 was heaven.

Who would’ve thought - Jews with iridescent blue scales arriving from the heavens? Nobody believed it at first. Hebrew speaking aliens? I sure as hell was convinced it was a hoax. Maybe NASA was even in on it. And what a sick joke, that Jews were being persecuted even in the far reaches of space. The Bnai Nashum knew it wasn’t a joke, but they weren’t prepared for what they found here on Earth.

The Rabbis wouldn’t accept that blue people from another planet they couldn’t even pronounce were Jews, even if they spoke a close facsimile of Hebrew and would not do work on their weekly sobat. The theological implications were mindblowing: Is this what God was busy with when he stopped talking to us directly? I guess an all-powerful and infinite God might get bored with overseeing just our one small world. The world-wide Jewish community was divided by the mere existence of these gentle emigrees; accusations of racism on one side clashed with fences built around the law on the other. I for one was not about to push them away after their very long journey.

I still remember Dad arguing with Rabbi Najari when a group of 60 or so BNs who did not go to Jerusalem asked to join our community. Of course their Torah was not exactly the same as ours! They’d had a different social structure and lived on an ice planet, for God’s sake. If they’d been given the same directives our people received in the desert, they wouldn’t have known what to do with them. But they did develop the values they needed to thrive when the Nobshat’be shunned the Bnai Nashum to the point of freezing them out of the residential zone. It wasn’t 400 years of slavery, but still damn nearly broke them.

When a stray TV broadcast of some old Israeli show from the 70s called “Lool” was caught by their radio observatory, a tech who was a closet BN recognized the dialogue as something close to their holy language. After reeling from the implications, the community made the decision to charter a craft to seek out their interstellar brethren.

After hundreds of years in suspended animation -- I can’t even imagine the guts that took -- they arrived on Earth. Lucky for them they landed in Florida and not some godforsaken place like Paris. The neverending meetings and vid coverage must have been overwhelming. Everyone wanted a piece of them. Shomer and Ga’al, who started tenth grade with me, ended up being homeschooled to avoid the glare. They’re good guys, but still a little crowdshy.

No messianic age ever arrived, and Sharon and I became friends, nothing more. She did end up marrying a BN named Gershom and having a beautiful blue baby with golden eyes. The bris was last week.

---------------------

Old World (Asst 2)

The suitcase sat open on the weathered bench. Artifacts of their life lay strewn across the table, waiting to be placed inside. Clothes, family pictures, holy books…she did not know what they would need in the new world.

He walked in and stared at the jumble, closing his eyes with a wince. “Leave it. We don’t have time.”

“Leave what? We can’t go with nothing.” Her pained brows pleaded her case. She scanned the table, inventorying what they might do without.

“All we need is us. If we don’t leave soon we will not have even that. The ship is departing as soon as it’s full and we must be on board.” He turned and headed to the front door, bracing himself for the chaos outside.

She put on her scarf and clutched her grandmother’s pendant like a talisman. “Children, come. It’s time to go.” The children ran in and she secured their coats around them.

Her boy reached up to be carried and she pulled him close to her. As they made their way across the room, the girl grabbed her beloved threadbare doll from the pile. The mother caught her breath when she spotted her daily prayerbook on the table, upset at herself that she might have left it, and slipped it into her coat pocket.

She took a last look around the small, warm room, at what she’d thought was her life, and stepped out the door, slamming it behind her.

--------

Tweet (Asst 3)

No matter how different from the old world to the new, the constant is, he saw, it's hard to be a Jew.

 

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons License by Michael Summers)

Comments

Please sign in or sign up to comment.