Miryam Meiers, entry#35 The Drinking Fountain contest



A Word with You Press has had some very fine moments of bringing people together.  How ironic, that this contest, which is as much about what divides us as what unites us, should evoke in me a very special memory of this contestant and friend to us all, Miryam Meiers. Miryam, a devout Jew and wife of a Rabbi entered what was often referred to as our “playground” and befriended whomever she chose, and she chose 80 year-old Peggy Dobbs, an equally devout born-again Baptist Christian.  Their affection for one another transcended borders that others might have created, and it was clear in their on-line banter that they loved each other.  I understand that they communicated privately as well, swapping recipes and keeping up with each others’ family. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?  Isn’t that the real purpose of being a writer, connecting to each other in personal, loving ways?  It only came to an end when Peggy passed away, saddening all of us.  And, how life could be and should be amplifies the sadness in this second entry from my dear friend Miryam.

For Just a Moment

By M. Meier


There are moments.

Unplanned moments.

When the curtain of time is held open, and one may step through the abyss in safety.

The lunch crowd was bustling in Jerusalem’s open market. I had finished my sabbath shopping and decided to have a bite to eat in one of the cafe stalls before catching the #7 bus home. I surprisingly found a table and snatched it. As I perused my surroundings I saw her. She was standing alone among the multitude of people inspecting the area for a place to sit, like myself a few moments before. I sensed by her face that she was tired and heard her faint sigh of frustration penetrate the cold December air. I spontaneously gestured for her to share my table. She looked at me with a questioning expression and I motioned for her again to please sit. She hesitated but sat down on the bench seat across from me as I smiled and introduced myself.

She shared a timid smile back.

“My name is Abiha. I live in Haifa and am visiting my daughter in Jerusalem today.”

We proceeded to talk over our lunch; mainly about our children and grandchildren while randomly sharing pictures on our phones. Any initial uneasiness quickly melted away, as her warmth reached into my heart. Our differences no longer seemed important. We were grandmothers, wives, career women, living in one ancient land called Israel. By the end of our lunch, Abiha had invited me to her home when I came to Haifa and we “friended” one another on Facebook. I reached out and took her hand. She squeezed my hand back and we said goodbye.

The next morning as I routinely checked the news, with horror I read that Rabbi Razed Shevach, 35, father of six was gunned down and killed by Arab terrorists while driving home just before midnight outside Jerusalem.

After the overwhelming sadness subsides, I reach for my phone and delete Abiha’s information. I check her Facebook page and discover she has already blocked me.

47 thoughts on “Miryam Meiers, entry#35 The Drinking Fountain contest

  1. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    Well, you’ve stepped into the minefield here so I’ll follow you in.

    All killing is wrong. And, unfortunately for life and for cordial discourse, terrorism tends to be in the eye of the beholder.

    And, as writers, we know that words matter, what is said and not said; how much information is given and what is withheld.

    It can reasonably be said, from reading the foundational document of my ancestors with dispassion, that the land in question was stolen from the start and genocide was authorized by a Higher Authority.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      “…driving home just before midnight outside Jerusalem” is a careful way of saying “to his home in a settlement in the West Bank.”

      The terrorists in the Irgun and Stern Gang, many of them, were survivors of the horrors in Europe. They went on to commit atrocities in the furtherance of political goals. Some of them became statesmen honored on the world stage.

      Let’s never forget it’s a cousins’ war going on; steps toward resolution won’t begin until people like yourself and Abiha say out loud, to each other and the world, that you share one blood. And that modern nations cannot be birthed by sectarian midwives.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        As for the writing itself here (since this is a literary contest, after all, and we ought to keep our eyes well on craft)–the final paragraph was perfect. I’d have wanted a little less selecting from the Adjective Superstore overall; the scene is strongly-enough painted without unnecessary adornment.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        I will further observe that many Israelis are deeply frustrated in the quest for a durable peace by the interference of Americans whose theological objectives are the heart of their support for Israel. It’s worth noting that Jerusalem was from the beginning a prize of war–David didn’t build it, he captured it.

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          And as we consider the times in which we currently live–a great deal of anger and despair has been expressed throughout this contest about the election of Donald Trump. It’s worth keeping in mind that Netanyahu is his cognate; they each draw their political support from the angry, the disaffected, the resentful, and those who do not cherish and strive to protect the secularism from which any durable modern society must be built.

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

            And as a general question–by what arc of justice can some American- or Russian- or South African-born people be freely welcomed into and obtain all rights of citizenship in Israel, while some Haifa- or Jerusalem-born people are told neither they nor their children nor their grandchildren can ever have any such rights?

            Are we not currently arguing in this country about the monstrosity of denying that some children raised but not born here are for all practical purposes “real Americans?” What about children in the West Bank or Gaza told they can never press claims to what had been their grandparents’ apartments, while European courts are returning stolen artwork to the descendants of Holocaust victims?

        • Miryam Howard says:

          King David took back Israel. Gd gave it to Moshe for the Hebrews to possess long before.
          Shabbat Shalom. Thanks for your comments.

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

            Well, Miryam, God also authorized Moses to abduct and rape those Midianite women and girls who were virgins (but to kill all the married ones); permits slavery, and orders us to murder our children if they transgress the Sabbath.

            Some of us may perceive the nature of the Creator to be somewhat different…

          • Lady Pafia Marigold says:

            The truth Miryam is that 1/2 + of the world do not believe in your Torah G-d nor that any of the words are directly from G-d. I am one who once did, at one point embraced the more Christian description, but no longer. The Islamic version of Allah is different yet. The argument that your G-d gave your people rights to own Israel is not the solution to the distress in the Middle East. A fair amount of Jewish people are atheists or agnostics due to the Holocaust & not all Jewish people in the Diaspora are Zionists. Your G-d also said, “Justice, justice, you shall pursue justice.” G-d didn’t say for just Jewish people, but towards all which includes the Palestinian people.

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          The introduction here indicates that you and your husband are people of faith. As such, you must know that all those regarded as prophets by various faith traditions are considered to have been sent to speak truth to power. What would Jesus say. I wonder, to the soldiers of the IDF killing and maiming fellow human beings trapped behind a fence?

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

            …and I hope we all have the moral courage to confront this: that what we may perceive as our own individual spiritual journeys can result in the trampling of other people’s civil and human rights. We see here, in this nation, miraculously and uniquely founded upon the principle of the separation of Church and State, and on secularism being the lifeblood of our democracy, that we must unceasingly defend and protect these necessities.

            By our own standards, Israel is, itself, a separate drinking fountain.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      Generally speaking, Miryam, the willful mischaracterization of others because they disagree with your worldview isn’t one of the hallmarks of righteousness.

  2. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    History reveals the stealing of lands, property & lives through murder & slavery by the stronger be it by war, land claiming, forced treaty decrees or false consignment. Reverse engineer backwards & these began before the emergence of homo sapiens. Solution? We share as non-violent lenders, never owners of land or property or we perish. Segregation, forced or selected, divides hope & diminishes true peace. Healing, Miryam, to me means “Do no harm” through oneness & revence for all creation without any false construction of species superiority, nations, religions, borders, race, sex, gender identity, orientation, skin colour, location, age or living location.

  3. Miryam Howard says:

    I could explain what I see with my own eyes here, however I feel it would be unsolicited & I’m not given to argumentive banter. I wish life was warm & fuzzy, & peace was attainable, however the evil that exists in the Islamic agenda does not allow for this possibility… My submission crys out for peace, & struggles with the reality of its unattainable grasp.
    Thanks to all that have opinions & share their feelings. I have no opinion. I just know what I see.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      In what material way does that evil Islamic agenda differ from your own agenda? You may not fully understand this, but Judaism and Islam are twin religions with an identical concept of God; it is, as I have said above, a cousins’ war; and of course within the family it was Ishmael who was treated most unfairly…

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        …but, to paraphrase Tolstoy, all fundamentalists are alike; and fundamentalism in any sphere–religious or secular–is dangerous.

        And in the sphere of this contest, expressing a blanket condemnation of any religion–rather than focusing on bad acts committed by individuals–is certainly counter to Thorn’s aims.

        But perhaps you believe that some prejudices are more acceptable than others?

  4. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    And–hewing entirely to the purposes of this contest–I’ll be appreciative of anyone who can convincingly demonstrate any difference between the concepts of “chosen people” and “white man’s burden.” Adherents of each of those points of view regard themselves as tasked with the sacred mission of bringing enlightenment to those incapable of achieving it in their own inherently flawed capacities…

    I will note that as one born into and raised within the majority expression of Jewish culture and faith, I consider myself to have a pretty good understanding of its actual rather than idealized way of thinking.

  5. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    1) The UN, to me, had no authority to declare “The State of Israel” in 1948. 2) The “Provisional Government of the Jewish State”…”will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants”…”based on freedom, justice and peace”…”it will ensure complete equality of all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”. The established government has failed to do this regardless of be it right or be it wrong to be established. 3) Solution: Evoke the Provisional Charter issuance since it was conditional & unjust to begin with. 4) Return lands & control back to the descendants of last legal owners who are in the majority Palestinians not Zionists.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      (I must say I’m delighted to see your return, Lady Pafia, though it must be painful to discover yourself on my side of an argument, and I salute your large-mindedness in doubly affirming that…)

  6. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    Unfortunately, Lady Pafia, the political map of the entire Middle East today is a fiction conjured from the economic interests of the Great Powers who sat around drawing lines on paper and selecting tribal leaders to be monarchs of imaginary thrones.

    We can’t put these genies back in the bottle but we can point out the injustices and human rights violations funded, very largely, by private and public American dollars. The imperatives of various faith traditions are counter to the needs of modern, democratic nation-states. It’s worth noting that all retired Mossad and Shin Bet leaders support a two-state solution that allows Palestinians to craft a viable national entity and not the Swiss cheese monstrosity on the ground today.

  7. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    The one-sided Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI (Great Britain to blame as well) had the stupidity & audacity to compartmentalise the once Ottoman Empire into illogical nations per Western Civilisation fears & greed to exploit. The victors were as ignornant to the nature of nomadic, tribal mindsets & lifestyles as were the mostly European heritage usurpers of many, many Native Nations throughout the Americas. I sense a parallel here, yet of course differences as well. Both situations need addressing, but the Arabian/Persian allies of differing faith-sects are many; the Native American are few. No solution to either will ever fully restore justice, but necessary if there is to be a partial peace.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      Well, don’t get all misty-eyed over the past glories of non-European cultures. The Muslim conquests of North Africa and the Balkans imposed Islam on peoples not necessarily eagerly accepting it; slavery continues in countries like Mauritania, where black Africans are still born into bondage to Arab families; there are Parsees in India because they were almost exterminated in Persia when Islam took root there.

      This is human nature. We craft laws to tame it. We also write thousands of volumes of commentary and legal interpretations to convince adherents of various scriptures that the texts don’t really mean what they very clearly do say.

    • Baruch Howard, Jerusalem says:

      Miryam, great story , well written, an amicable rendition of two ladies connecting in Jerusalems ever busy Mahane Yehuda Shuk. No one really understands what it is like in this Holy City, it must be visited and Israel must be actually lived in to even begin to taste and see everyday ‘real’ life here.
      Unfortunately many believe that they need to spew anti semetic prejudice and pc leftist rhetoric having never even set foot upon our lovely land.
      This of course is not the purpose of a writers group, as we ALL know we are here to encourage each contestants submission and keep our personal drivel out of this amazing opportunity to support each authors joyous craft.

      I am your greatest fan my Queen

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        Well, funny thing, Mr. Howard. My great-grandparents are buried in Haifa Old Cemetery; the families of two of my great-aunts are Israeli; I spent one adolescent summer in Israel and several weeks as an adult there–

        –but more importantly for the purpose of this contest–why do you feel it necessary to respond to meaningful questions with personal attacks on the motives of others?

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          …and of course it’s not YOUR lovely land. It’s land that you have managed to obtain permission to live in–a permission that others, with kinship and long-enduring community ties to, are denied. This is, after all, a discussion within the framework of a literary contest, about justice.

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

            And I’d be grateful to have any actual anti-Semitic prejudice here pointed out to me, or PC rhetoric.

            Facts are often counter to a particular worldview; I wonder if you’ve read any Israeli scholars–you know, Jewish guys who’ve studied the actual documented history of the founding of the State of Israel and the half-century since; or the memoirs of former directors of Shin Bet and the Mossad.

          • Miryam says:

            The real deal Ms Sarah….. Arab-Islam folk live all over in Israel… they are merchants and co-workers everywhere. They are full Israeli citizens and have seats in the Knesset. Unfortunately, it has become necessary for the Israeli gov to protect it’s citizens against terror driven attacks. Sad, but true on the street.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        By the way–my other great-grandfather, the rabbi, would have said that vigorous discourse and debate are the core of the rabbinic tradition.

        And as you know, this contest was meant to spur debate and discussion about very hard, very painful, very emotional topics.

      • Lady Pafia Marigold says:

        I meant no disrespect to Miryam or her writing directly. I know she is a loving lady. My undergraduate work was with the idea & ideal of going on to Rabbinical Studies to become a Rabbi. Yes, I lived as Jewish during my college years, but was turned down for conversion. I was pro-Zionist, but after studying history more fairly, I believe the UN solution was unjust as well as the treatment of the Palestinian people since. Palestinians are as “Semitic” as any Jewish person by DNA & heritage. This struggle is not a semitic one, but a human rights’ debate of how to create justice for all not just the strong. Any terrorism is wrong, but so are the inequitable living conditions forced on the Palestinian people by Israel.

        • Miryam says:

          Hello sweet Lady Pafia Marigold… I appreciate your comment towards me. I do not take anyone’s comments too personally and understand that there is a multitude of opinions regarding the Middle East arena…. When politics and opinions are mixed with the writers’ voice of expression, things can turn sour real fast!! hahaaaaa…. Maybe I will try writing a piece from a Hamas terrorist’s perspective!!! Now that would be a pure artistic accomplishment!!!

  8. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    By the way, Mr. Howard–weren’t all the prophets preaching that PC lefty rhetoric–demanding justice, demanding redistribution of wealth, making those comfortable in a fundamentalist interpretation of religion uncomfortable by a breaking of old conventions?

    Forcing conversations that people really didn’t want to have?

  9. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    If life were as it ought to be, everyone’s personal beliefs would be their own private business. But the progress this nation has made over the course of my own lifetime in hewing to the secular ideals of its founding are being rapidly dragged backwards. Members of Congress increasingly have mindsets indistinguishable from those of the average mullah; laws ensuring everyone has the right to access the healthcare suitable for their needs are being rolled back and replaced by regulations more suitable to a medieval parish; far too many people fail to understand that legal marriage is a civil contract and those who regard it as a sacrament cannot impose their beliefs on others;

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      or that a nation’s foreign policy cannot be driven by theological imperatives; well-funded public education is the bedrock of an equitable society; no candidate for any office should use their faith in any sectarian religion or an opponent’s lack of same as legitimate for discussion or advertisement in a political campaign.

      “Secular” is not a vocabulary word from the Devil’s lexicon. It is the essential character of American democracy. Those who do not understand that need a refresher session in civics class.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        Adherents of other faiths are perfectly capable of coming to their own valid understanding of God and all roads lead equally to the Creator; atheists and agnostics can be perfectly moral and ethical people; you are free to hold any beliefs you choose but you are not free to impose those beliefs on civil society, here or in any other country.

  10. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    And–only because you’ve made such a point of it here, Thorn–from what I understand here, the friendship between Miryam and Peggy was hardly a bridge across a theological chasm, since belief in the message of the Gospels is apparently central to the worldview of both of them.

    A more considerable ecumenical challenge might be, say, to form a genuine friendship with someone like me…

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        How willing are you to discuss hard and uncomfortable subjects without a concealed agenda? (Hint: I ain’t ripe for conversion…)

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          …but if you’d like to start with some perhaps more philosophical (rather than evangelical) perspectives on what some people believe to be the nature of God, you might want to read St. Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart. There’s a refreshing universality to them…

          • Miryam says:

            Sarah Crysl Akhtar, Thank you for suggesting the reading material, however, you have no idea what my perspectives are on the nature of Gd or otherwise. That you would be so bold as to require standards for friendship or mere dialog, gives me a clear picture of your lack of humanity…. I am more apt to be friends with individuals that can see beyond the need to argue and be rude, of which you have brilliantly expressed yourself as superior. I prefer to gather friendships with those that exhibit kindness, which is the ultimate expression of intelligence in this world of too much hatred. May you find happiness and consider reading, “Ediquette for Dummies”. It is a shame that your writing talent should be wasted. Peace out.

  11. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    Just a commentary on Lady Pafia’s most recent response here to Miryam:

    The concept of God in Islam is identical to that of God in Judaism; further, Muslims count as among the sacred canon the Torah, the Psalms, and the New Testament. Jesus is for Muslims one of the prophets; they regard Muhammad as the final prophet and equal to but not greater than any of the others.

    Of course, it wasn’t until the Council of Nicaea that a consensus was accepted among Christians to consider Jesus divine and an aspect of a tri-partite God.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      And those believing in the message of Christ but not in this earthly determinant of his divinity were of course persecuted into extinction by the rest.

      But, again, to re-emphasize what must be constantly emphasized–religious texts are not appropriate guidance for political decisions, and the constant drumbeat for war to achieve some very narrow sectarian goals can hardly be considered something Jesus–or any moral person–would approve of.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        And of course every religion based on a revealed scripture insists that their prophet comes with the final word.

        But the heart of the message is almost invariably the same; it’s the obligation of every person of faith–regardless of what that faith is–to attempt with an open heart to separate divine and eternal truth from mere human nonsense.

        But that requires thinking about stuff, and we know how hard that is…

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          …but here’s a start. It’s not all *that* hard to figure out that the Creator of the universe would be unlikely to insist that women submit to their husbands, or to hand out deeds in perpetuity to any particular selected portion of His creation to particular bits of real estate…

          …but unfortunately human beings tend to see God in their own image, instead of the reverse, because imagining the unknowable is, like, hard…

  12. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    Well, Miryam, you’ve made your perspective clear by asserting that “King David took back Israel. Gd gave it to Moshe for the Hebrews to possess long before.”

    …and by referring to “the evil that exists in the Islamic agenda” while failing to note that the problem, actually, is fundamentalism, and that all evil grows from that.

    Such views, which are taking over policy positions within our own government, and which are supported by the sorts of people who believe what I quoted in my first paragraph, are endangering all of us.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      And therefore must be called out, because not-so-slowly creeping fundamentalism endangers all of us, and some otherwise awfully-nice-seeming people are at the forefront of trying to impose it on the rest of us.

  13. grant laurence says:

    The end to your story, for me at least, was perfect Miryam – tis what people generally do…a faction commits an atrocity and individuals retreat back to their blood. Which of course is the aim of the terrible game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.