Pride and Prejudice in Jerusalem: Chapter 2

By Elle Kaye

Mr. Ben-Ami was among the earliest of those who went to welcome the young Dr. Levy to their beautiful building complex in the German Colony, Jerusalem. He had always intended to visit him, though to the last always assuring his wife that he would not go and till the evening after the visit was paid, she had no knowledge of it. It was then disclosed in the following manner... Observing his second daughter, whilst listening to the latest legal podcast, painting her nails, he suddenly addressed her with:

 “I hope Dr. Levy will like them, Shevi.”

“We are not in a way to know whatDr. Levy likes,” said her mother resentfully, “since you would not visit.”

 “But you forget, Ima,” said Elisheva, “that we will meet him at the Succah party, and that the upstairs Cohens promised to introduce him.”

 “I do not believe that Rina Cohen will do any such thing. She has two daughters of her own. She is a selfish, hypocritical woman, and I have no good opinion of her.”

 “No more have I,” said Gideon, “and I am glad to find that you do not depend on her helping you.”

Tamara Ben-Ami deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began scolding one of her daughters.

 “Stop coughing, Kiki,” for thus did they all call Keren, the second youngest, “for Heaven’s sake! I’m feeling anxious enough as it is.”

“Kiki has no discretion in her coughs,” said her father. “she times them very badly.”

“I don’t cough for my own amusement,” replied Keren angrily and then abruptly changed the topic. “Are you going out, Shevi?”

“Tomorrow night. A few of us from the building are going out as a welcome to the newbies.”

“So you are,” cried her mother, “and the upstairs Cohens’s will have introduced their daughters and it will be too late for you all.”

“Actually, my dear, you may have the advantage of your friend on this one. I believe our girls will meet him first.”

“Impossible, Gideon, impossible, how can you be so teasing? I am sick of Dr. Levy!”

“I am sorry to hear that ; but why did you not tell me that before? If I had known as much this morning, I certainly wouldn’t have knocked on his door and introduced myself. It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit and welcomed him to the building, we cannot escape the acquaintance now.”

The astonishment of the ladies was just what he wished; that of Mrs. Ben-Ami perhaps surpassing the rest; though, when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to declare that it was what she had expected all the while.

“How good it was of you, my dear Gideon! But I knew I should persuade you at last. I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance. Well, I am very pleased! And it is such a good joke, too, that you should have gone this morning and never said a word about it till now.”

“Now, Kiki, you may cough as much as you choose,” said Mr. Ben-Ami; and, as he spoke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.

“What an excellent father you have, girls!” said she, when the door was shut. “I do not know how you will ever be able to thank him for his kindness; or me, either, for that matter. At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would do anything. Lia, my love, though you are. the youngest, I dare say Dr. Levy might like to take you out.”

“Oh!” said Lia stoutly, “I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I’m the tallest.” This was said in so petulant a tone so as to leave no one in doubt of her youth.

The rest of the evening was spent in conjecturing how soon it would be until they bumped in to the new residents, and, determining when would be too soon or soon enough to invite them for Friday night dinner. Of all this Hodaya was ignorant as she was working the night shift at the hospital. Shevi, too, barely heard a word as she listened to the latest goings on in the legal world.