The scene: It is again Wachter’s living room. You will recall that it is Friday morning and we saw the scene from the play the Dybbuk and the dancing of the Hava Nagila. Maury, continues in his role as the house manager.
Let the play begin…
Maury: Now let me show you the rest of our world. By the way, do any of you have special skills?
Lusia: I am a nurse.
Maury: Excellent. You shall be in charge of the infirmary. Now if we only had a doctor. Are you a doctor, Dolek?
Dolek: No, a plumbing contractor. That is, I was until they took away my business.
Maury: Better even than a doctor! You see, we have a problem with the toilet. There’s only one in a house, and it’s totally stopped up.
Dolek: I don’t have my tools, but I will do what I can.
Maury: Thank you. And Sharon—did you say you were a cook?
Sharon: And I keep house…
Dolek: [Snorts] Hah! That will be the day!
Sharon: I can! I do! Oh, why can’t you be kind?
Maury: Never mind. Those are valuable skills, Sharon. [The sound of bombs is heard in the distance.] That’s odd. Why are they bombing so early?
Dolek: Perhaps a quick raid by one Allied plane.
Maury: Maybe. You should know that bombs are usually dropped in “sticks.”
When they fall your direction, they are like the footsteps of a walking giant. If the footsteps fall on either side of you, you are relatively safe. If not…
Dolek: Yet another worry!
Sharon: Now it’s no worry—the bombs have stopped.
Dolek: I can hear!
Maury: So back to business. Lusia, please go help Mrs. Winkelman in the kitchen.
Lusia: Come with me, Genia.
Maury: Dolek, please go with me to the toilet. Oh…that doesn’t sound right, does it. “Dolek, please accompany me….”
A loud knocking is heard at the front door.
Maury: Remember what I said about answering the door! All go into other rooms! Quickly!
Mrs. Winkelman enters from the kitchen and looks through peephole.
Mrs. Winkelman: Herr Wachter!
She unbolts and opens the door. A yellow ball rolls in, followed by Wachter. He sets a large package and a plumber’s plunger on a table, and retrieves the ball.
Mrs. Winkelman: Guten tag, Herr Wachter. [She picks up package] Ah! I smell real meat.
Wachter: Good morning, Marie. There’s more.
Wachter begins to dislodge food from various hiding places. Although rather plump when he entered, he quickly slims down as cans of fruits and beans, bags of sugar and flour come out of his pockets. He opens his coat to and unwraps a length of sausage links wound round his waist. He removes his hat to reveal a can of beans. He hands his coat to Mrs. Winkelman.
Wachter: Unzip the lining, Marie. It’s full of oatmeal. And look in the pockets-- flour.
Mrs. Winkelman: Herr Wachter, you are the limit!
Wachter: [Calls] Genia! Where is Genia? Genia! [Genia enters timidly, followed by her mother.] Genia, this is for you. [He rolls the ball toward Genia, who picks it up.]
Lusia: Thank Herr Wachter, Genia.
Genia: [Curtseys] Thank you!
Lusia: Herr Wachter….about Jareth, have you heard anything?
Wachter: He escaped the mob.
Lusia: Thank God. Oh, thank God!
Wachter: He outran them. Left them in the dust, you might say.
Lusia: He is a long distance runner—a champion.
Wachter: I believe it.
Lusia: Is there no other word?
Wachter: I’m afraid not, Lusia. When I hear more, I’ll let you know. [Calls] Maury!
Maury: I’m here, Herr Wachter.
Wachter: We must talk. Run along, everyone.
Mrs. Winkelman: Come with me, Genia. I’m sure I have a kichel for you. [She takes Genia’s hand and exits to the kitchen, followed by Lusia.]
Wachter: What a pretty little girl. It is refreshing to have the very young in the house again.
Maury: You have news?
Wachter: Not good. [Lowers voice] The mob didn’t catch Jareth, but he was hit by several stones. Badly hurt.
Maury: My God. Why do they do this?
Wachter: [Gesturing in futile rage] Why are they doing this, stoning people? What makes them so savage?
Maury: Perhaps the Allied bombing. This city has been hit hard. They blame the Jews for that, too.
Wachter: It’s so unfair. It’s a quick death out there, for a Jew.
Maury: Maybe better stoning than the vernichtunslager—the death camp.
Wachter: I agree. But I can’t tell that to Lusia. One must lie when the truth is too terrible to bear. By the way, I met the chief devil on the street. Had a talk with him.
Maury: The chief devil?
Wachter: Heinrich Strassel, Waffen SS commander for this district… He answers only to Himmler.
Maury: Oh, no! Not that one! I’ve heard stories about him—a terrible man. He talked with you? That’s dangerous.
Wachter: Not at all. He greeted me as an old friend, which he is. We were boys together, inseparable once, long ago.
Maury: A demon walking the earth.
Wachter: His headquarters, and the Gestapo, are just around the corner.
Maury: Oy veh! In the den of the tiger. Maybe the tiger won’t see us, right under his nose.
Wachter: Strassel was in high spirits. He was personally assigned by Himmler to the goal of making the whole area Judenfrei.
A man and woman walk through to the kitchen. All nod; exchange “shaloms”
Maury: This week’s garbage detail.
Wachter: You have them well-organized, Maury. You are well-named the arranger.
Maury: We must all be kept busy, even if it is only make-work. To think too much is to go crazy. Speaking of going crazy, did you find a doctor?
Wachter: Yes, but too late. They caught him before I could get him away. But he escaped.
Wachter: Bit a cyanide pill.
Maury: A pity. We could have used him. I had excellent quarters set up for him in the cellar, next to the cemetery where he could contemplate his mistakes.
Wachter: Maury, you are a cynic.
Maury: To be a cynic is to be armored against the world. [He catches sight of the plumber’s plunger.] Ah, you got it, the Plumber’s Friend. Thank heavens: if this doesn’t work we are in real trouble.
Two men pass through carrying a ladder. They say “Shalom”, echoed by Maury, and exit]
Maury: The roofers. They have a problem. They must stop a leak, from inside already. They daren’t outside to fix it. There must be no attention paid to this house. Wait! I’ll go with you.
Genia enters, bouncing the yellow ball and followed by Lusia.
Lusia: May we come in?
Wachter: Of course. Consider this your house.
Maury: Excuse me; I must get this to Dolek. [Exits]
Wachter: I’m sorry, Lusia, that we can’t offer you more room.
Lusia: It’s a palace compared to our last hiding place, Herr Wachter. I am so grateful.
Wachter: No need to be.
Lusia: [Quietly, as Genia plays on the other side of the room.] Herr Wachter, do you think Jareth… is…is dead?
Wachter: Only God knows, Lusia. I will try to find out more tomorrow.
Lusia: I—I won’t ask again. If you say nothing, I’ll know there is nothing to say. Then there is really nothing…nothing at all.
Wachter: Genia, I’m sorry you can’t play out in the yard. It’s a nice yard, but you must never leave this house!
Lusia: Yes, never leave this house, Genia. [Genia nods quietly.] She doesn’t talk much. Herr Wachter.
Genia : Why do they hate us, Herr Wachter?
Wachter: Why…who hates you, Genia?
Genia: The ones who killed my daddy.
Lusia: Genia! No!
Wachter: He’s not dead, Genia. Well, we don’t know that for sure.
Genia: I know…I know it. My daddy came to me last night in a dream. Daddy’s dead.
Lusia: Oh, Genia! No! [Takes Genia in her arms.]
Genia: Daddy just stood there in my dream, looking down at me. The he smiled, and was gone. Why do they hate us so, Herr Wachter?
Wachter: I don’t know, Genia. I wish I did. But don’t hate back. If you do, you will be no better than the haters.
Genia: No, I will not hate them. [Picks up her ball, turns away]
Wachter: [Musing] Jewish children learn of death so soon…so soon.
Maury: Herr Wachter, I must speak with you, alone. Its’ a serious matter!
Lusia: Come, Genia. [They exit.]
Maury: It’s about that new couple—Dolek and Sharon.
Wachter: What about them?
Maury: They fight.
Wachter: Don’t married couples often fight?
Maury: Not like these two. It’s cats and dogs with them. Besides, he’s a kvetcher--a worrier. Worries all the time.
Wachter: People react to danger in different ways, Maury. Some with fear, some with anger. Dolek worries. That’s his way.
Maury: He always sees the worst side, a real crepe hanger. “Doesn’t think we’ll be alive tomorrow,” and words like that. Makes the others worry. Makes me worry, even.
Wachter: Here they come.
Dolek enters, followed by Sharon.
Sharon: You haven’t had a good word to say to me for months. I’m sick of it!
Dolek: Then be silent, woman!
Sharon: Don’t you “woman” me!
Dolek: Gentlemen: meet the shrew.
Sharon: [In tears] I…I love you, Dolek. I still love you.
Dolek: [appears to soften a little] I…I, ah…. [Then he hardens]
Sharon: You used to love me…were kind to me!
Dolek: That was before you turned into a fountain of acid.
Maury: Be still, you two!
Dolek: She keeps at me…at me—
Sharon: If I do, it’s because you deserve it.
Maury: [thunders] Quiet!
Wachter: Maury, let me handle this.
Dolek: Just get her off my back, Herr Wachter.
Sharon: Let him be kind to me!
Wachter: I can’t help you there; you’ll have to work that out yourselves. But I must tell you this—we’re a little community here, a delicate social structure under great stress because of the terrible danger that faces us. One quarrel like yours can tear that structure apart. If you can’t be kind to one another, then be silent. Stay apart, if nothing else.
Wachter: Yes; Shalom.
Maury: Dolek, is the toilet unstopped?
Dolek: Shalom. Nearly. I had to make a special tool to unstop it.
Maury: [Groans] Then please keep at it. It’s become a crisis! I’ll join the line of the others waiting. [Dolek exits] Mrs. Winkleman can use some help, Sharon. [Sharon exits]
I don’t believe they’ll change, Herr Wachter. Shall we put them out?
Wachter: It’s death for them if we do. Let’s give them another chance, Maury. I believe that they really love one another, but they’ve forgotten how to say it.
Maury: You are an idealist, Herr Wachter. And I thank God for that!
The Rabbi enters, followed by Itzhak.
Rabbi: Did I hear the name of God? Let us be thankful to God.
Itzhak: [On the attack] What God?
Rabbi: [Startled] There is only one God: the Lord God of Israel.
Itzhak: You and your God. You live in a fairy world of your God. Why don’t you come down to earth?
Rabbi: [Hurt] Why…why Itzhak!
Itzhak: Of all the fools on earth, there is no greater fool than a fool like you, with your chatter of God, God, God.
Rabbi: But Itzhak, what about Moses and the Exodus from Egypt? Don’t you believe in that?
Itzhak: I’ll accept that—I’ll give you that…that God saved the tribes of Israel. But what’s he done for us lately?
Rabbi: What do you mean?
Itzhak: Just what I said. What’s he done for us—we Jews—lately?
Rabbi: Why look here, one the floor –a ray of sunshine. [The ray has penetrated a fold in the heavy curtains.] God gives us the sun. And have you not seen the day? It’s a beautiful day, cool, with fluffy white clouds. God gave us this day.
Itzhak: God gave me such a day about a month ago. I’ll never forget it, that day. But first, let me tell you something else, something you didn’t notice. Your God is dead!
Rabbi: No, Itzhak!
Itzhak: Let me ask you again? What’s’ he done for us lately?
Rabbi: Well, I live.
Itzhak: Not if they catch you, you won’t! [Itzhak strides up to the Rabbi, thrusts his face into his.] Fool!
Maury: Hey! Hold on!
Rabbi: You insult me! [He is angry, ready to strike, but holds himself back with an effort] The Talmud says…
Wachter: Itzhak! Stop!
Itzhak: Ah, now we are going to have the Talmud. Give us some of your fool wisdom, Rabbi, the wisdom of a dead God!
Rabbi: [He gives Itzhak a stinging slap. Maury and Wachter move to separate them.] Disbelieve if you will, but do not mock my God!
Lights dim out
The belief that The God of Abraham was letting his people down was manifest in other ways. A deeply moving example of the dissatisfaction is manifested in the motion picture "God On Trial". (More will be written about this classic in the next Interval, Interval Three.)
A prediction for the next Episode, Episode 4: Genia does leave the house, putting the little community in the most terrible danger!
In the meantime, please read Interval Three, which will be published in the blog on Monday November 12. And don’t forget the Facebook page of A Ball for Genia, and the e-mail address geniaball*at*gmail.com. All three await your comments! And if you are into twittering, twitter this: @ABallForGenia.
‘til then, May God be with you.