Feb 22, 2018

The Breakfasting Cats of the Kotel

A Guest Post by Saraya Ziv www.maskforwinter.com

The Breakfasting Cats of the Kotel

This dawn visit to the Western Wall I’m in the service area slipping cans of cat food under a trash bin when I hear a soft swish, and freeze. Rising from behind a dumpster is a woman, also religious, but, unlike me, elegantly clothed. She hoists a shush finger, then crooks it. I walk to where she beckons. From a leather satchel she hands me pouches of fancy food and pink plastic plates. In silent conspiracy, we cater breakfast for the cats of the Kotel.

We rise from our crime to find a young policeman standing at military attention. I’m wondering if he’ll read us our Miranda rights or just demand don’t move hands up while he calls for reinforcements. The lady says pooof, dusts off her skirt, and converses easily with the cop, who replies quietly, his face working. They speak Hebrew with different natal cadences; I understand nothing. The policeman watches the woman shoulder her satchel and purse. He looks at us doe-eyed and says the only thing I get, which has no congruent English analogue, “All honor to you ladies. All honor to you.” The three of us walk off separately, each glancing back at the breakfasting cats of the Kotel.

After morning prayers as I wait at the Kotel Plaza bus stop, my friend’s husband, Jake, appears nearly nose to nose and says, “For the third time, GOOD MORNING.”

I’m so absorbed in my dawn encounter that I blab the whole tale to Jake, who lets the coffee in his cup get cold as he listens. At story’s end, it occurs to me that Jake probably thinks I’m nuts. I start to apologize for the nine yard yack when he shakes his head.

“Every morning after services the rabbi in my synagogue gives a lecture in Talmud. About a month ago a dog, a big mutt, walked in and parked himself at the rabbi’s feet. It was pandemonium. Some of the guys freaked, two kids ran out screaming. Rabbi S. banged on his lectern until he was blue. Finally we shut up. ‘They’re my feet, why should it bother you?’

“After a week, one man decided the dog was thirsty. He bought a heavy bowl. Every morning he fills it with fresh water and leaves it under the sink in the coffee room. This bothered my uncle who kept saying it’s not rightit’s not right. I finally asked him what’s not right, and instead of answering he made me drive him to the other side of Jerusalem. We bought a humongous bag of dog food and another bowl. Now we all chip in to feed Sugar.”

I ask how this dog got his name. Jake does not look shy, embarrassed, or sheepish; he takes the question straight. “His name is Sugar because he’s a sweetie.”

Walking towards me with another woman is my partner in crime. Her friend is carrying on in interminable Russian; my partner is rolling one hand in an ellipsis (get on with it…). When she sees me, she winks.

Jake nods. “He comes every day. And he’s cute; he eats, but he always leaves some food over.”
I tell Jake that is not normal behavior for a dog. He dumps his cold coffee. His eyes narrow. His look says, you know nothing about animals.

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