Friday, 20 March 2015
It’s Friday and the end of my once-a-month normal week; you know, with an actual not-at-work weekend at each end of it. The next one is in April, the next in May, etc… Anyway, with the sheer luxury of two whole days off work ahead it’s nice to look back on the news stories of the week and pick something less party political to write about. Seeing the Bibi Netanyahu re-election on many a news site I looked for regional good news stories and stumbled on this, the account of Emmanuel Gershkovich who has lived a long life in Israel since its foundation in 1948, when the only-just-teenaged Manny’s parents moved there from what they viewed as exile in the USA.
From a young age he was always devout and was immediately drawn to the symbolic Western Wall in Jerusalem and here he has daily come to pray since his first days in the newly established homeland. Now approaching his eightieth birthday he has become a well-known figure in the holy city and a news team was sent last week to interview him. The reporter asked him what he had prayed for during this long vigil and the now frail but still resolute Manny set out to explain his mission.
“I first prayed” he said “for the safety of our soldiers during the war of independence and that the Jewish and Arab militias could find peace and reconciliation. Then, as we entered the nineteen-fifties I prayed for peace during the reprisals and prayed again, of course, for an end to the Suez Crisis of 1956. In the Six Day War, I continued to hold my faith and I prayed for a cessation of hostilities between ourselves and Egypt and then again during the War of Attrition in the last years of the sixties.” The reporter listened in silent reverence as he continued.
“I prayed again for peace during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and prayed harder still as I saw the rise of the Ayatollahs in the Islamic revolution in Iran. When the Lebanon conflict began in earnest in the early eighties I pressed my lips to the mighty wall here and asked Jehovah to bring a lasting peace to these troubled lands. Then came the Palestinian intifadas and the Lebanon war of 2006, followed almost immediately, by the Gaza War. And now we see the horrific resurgence of terrorism in the guise of the forces of ISIS, which threatens to engulf the whole of the world. But still I come every day to pray; all I wish is for my children, my grandchildren and their children to know a world of peace.”
The rendering was clearly going to be
a bigger job than they first thought...
Manny paused and turned to view the reporters. He had delivered this dialogue with his cheek pressed up against the sturdy wall that had represented the rock of his faith for almost all of his life, but now he invited their questions. The chief reporter said, “Wow that is truly beautiful and inspirational. How do you feel now, after doing this amazing thing for almost 70 years?” Manny sighed and took a deep breath before replying, “I feel like I’ve been talking to a fucking brick wall.”