I tell my sonâ€”he’s two and one-half years oldâ€”not to pick up cigarette butts and try to smoke them. So he picks up cigarette butts with increased fervor. I tell him not to cross the street by himself. So he crosses the street by himself with impish delight in his daring. They tell me he comes by his mulishness naturally.
However that may be, and I want no remarks on the subject from my neighbor on page seven whose column is a rendezvous for Nazis; I merely brought my son into today’s Day Book as a convenient bridge to an incident in far-off Jerusalem. The incident bids fair to become an annual event, like the World Series, or the Yale-Harvard football clash, or the coming-out party of the groundhog.
The incident illustrates the charming perverseness of the human animal. This particular one that occurred in Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement happens to be much more significant than that involving my son and the cigarette butts. It is significant because it is touched with symbolism.
The regular reader of the Jewish Daily Bulletin is probably aware of the story to which I am referring. For the sake of the not-so-regular reader I repeat the meagre details of the story as reported on page one yesterday.
A chap by the name of Chaim Ruben Horowitz took it into his noodle to blow a shofar. If he had blown it in a temple somewhere, he wouldn’t have got into trouble. But he decided to blow it, of all places, in the one spot in Jerusalem where blowing the shofar is an invitation to grief. He tooted the ram’s horn or rather he attempted to toot itâ€”at the Wailing Wall. A policeman who knew that there was a lawâ€”promulgated by an international commission appointed by the League of Nations following the Arab-Jewish riots against blowing the shofar in that particular spot, pounced upon the would-be tooter and clamped him into the Jerusalem bastille.
Although the story didn’t say so, the policeman was probably posted there for that very purpose. You see, last year on Yom Kippur another chap also took it into his head that he’d like to blow the shofar at the Wailing Wall. That chappie also was compelled to languish behind the bars for a spell.
Now there’s something appealing in these frustrated attempts to sound the ram’s horn where it is forbidden to sound it. There’s drama in the thing. It’s laden with color. It has all the elements of superb conflict.
“You must not blow the shofar at the Wailing Wall,” says the law.
There is, therefore, for the rebellious spirit no more fitting place in all the world to blow the shofar than at the Wailing Wall. I’ll blow it, say you, at the Wailing Wall if I have to rot in a dun#eon for it.
I say there’s drama in the thing and I say it should and probably will be perpetuated. Perhaps in this manner:
It is Yom Kippur eve in Jerusalem. All over the beautiful white city there are scattered posters that have a strange resemblance to the posters advertising the football games in this country. They are illustrated. There is a sketch of the Wailing Wall. In front of it are posted squads of police in something like football regalia. They are strategically deployed to cover every approach to the Wall. Lined up in front of them, also in something like football garb, are groups of young men. One of them firmly grasps a shofar.
The legend on the posters read:
ANNUAL SHOFAR RUSH
The stated admission price is one shilling tuppence.
I’m seated, by some miracle, on the fifty-yard line in the stadium erected specially to permit the public a good view of the Annual Shofar Rush.
My seat must be on the side where the cops have their rooting section. For all around me there are Arabs hopping up and down and whooping it up for the cops. There’s no organized cheering, but the boys are doing a pretty good job of encouraging their heroes just the same.
“Come on, you cops!” they roar. “Mop ’em up! Hold that line!” And so forth.
From the opposite stands, the cheering seems to be somewhat organized. A young lad, in what appears to be a scout uniform, with a megaphone in his hand, bounces around here and there in front of the stands. Once I think I heard him yell, “Give ’em the long locomotive, now! Put everything you’ve got into this one! Show ’em we’re behind ’em!”
The Shofar cheering squad then gives a pretty fair imitation of the Columbia locomotive. Following that, they break into “Roar, Shofar, Roar!” It goes something like this, if I remember correctly:
“Roar, Shofar, Roar
And wake the echoes of the
Red Sea Valley;
Fight on to vict’ry evermore
While the sons of Judaism
The Wailing Wall,
The Wailing Wall,
Shouting its name,
Forever roar, Shofar, roar,
And wake the echoes of the
The crowd likes that one. Even the Arabs politely applaud. Following that number the Jewish boys give a perfunctory yell for the cops. The polizei acknowledge the courtesy by bowing stiffly and raising their cork helmets a trifle above their noggins.
Immediately thereafter, the referee comes to the center of the gridiron and, blowing a tune upon a piccolo, (it sounds very much like, “Did you ever hear Pete go tweet, tweet, tweet, on his piccolo?” and roar:
“Are you ready, Police? Are you ready Shofar?”
They’re ready, and how!
Hardly has the referee scampered to safety when the brilliant Shofar quarterback, shofar tucked tightly against his chest with four of his galloping mates running interference for him and mowing down would-be tacklers with deadly precision, crashes through the police lines for the first touchdown. Standing on the enemy’s goal line, at the Wailing Wall, he toots a mighty toot on his Shofar that brings a thunderous cheer from the stands.
The next charge results in dismal failure. Signals get mixed or something, and, to the groats of the Jewish rooters and the wild acclaim of the Arabs, the polizei down the man carrying the shofar and cart him off to the gaol (not goal, please, Mr. Printer).
The game ends with the score ten to seven in favor of the police. That is, they cart off ten of the Shofar boys while the latter succeed in pushing seven of their men over the goal line for a loud toot.
The whole business ends in quite the college boy fashion. The Arabs, elated by their first victory in ten years, rush the Wailing Wall and all but tear it down.
Incidentally, I don’t believe that the business of my son’s picking up cigarette butts could be turned into quite so thrilling a game.