“Everything must stay the same! “ declared Rabbi Kisseh.
“Everything changes!” said Rabbi Gevalt.
Solly lifted his head from his book and looked from one to the other. He’d been practising barmitzvah. Isaiah. Fire, brimstone, and, something that really scared him: you shall flee even when there is no pursuer.
Isn’t there always a pursuer?
Solly had two teachers because his mother and his father could not agree on what approach to take to his coming of age. They always argued, especially about him, but so long as Solly played the baby, he got by with a pinch of the cheek from his father, half angry, half loving, and his mother’s song, “He didn’t mean it! My bubbeleh!”
Solly’s father owned the car yard over the road from the synagogue in Elsternwick. And Rabbi’s Kisseh’s broken down 1965 pale blue Holden was always there. Rabbi Gevalt’s 1980 red Lambourghini, sporadically.
Solly stood over his father’s legs that stuck out from under Rabbi Kisseh’s car. Ever since he could remember, he had always addressed his father’s legs, because his father seemed always to be under the rabbi’s car.
“It says I should flee,” said Solly.
The two legs crossed. Why did Solly always bring an earth-shattering issue when Gabor was having particular difficulty turning a particular nut.
“I shall run away. “
The two legs uncrossed, and then crossed again.
“Do I have to do my barmitzvah?”
They uncrossed with vigour.
“Well why should I?”
“Go ask your Mother!” and his legs disappeared completely under the car.
“Mum, I don’t want to do my barmitzvah.”
“Poor bubbeleh!” And she hugged him and stroked his cheeks that were losing their chubbiness and developing angles that made her feel slightly uncomfortable.
Rabbi Gevalt’s red Lamborghini sat beside Rabbi Kisseh’s old Holden in his father’s yard. It could go, but never earned a roadworthy.
Bubbeleh opened the door of the red Lamborghini and sat behind the wheel. He ran his hand over the ledge of the torn sun visor and pulled out a key.
You shall flee even when there is no pursuer.
He turned the key but had to slink down low for his foot to reach the pedal. The car jerked .
Both rabbis came running out.
“What are you doing?” They pulled him from the car.
His mother ran up and held Bubbeleh to her breast.
“Don’t shout at my Bubbeleh!”
“I don’t want to do my barmitzvah!”
Rabbi Kisseh’s instinct was to grab the boy by the ears …drag him to his books and bury his nose in them.
But even though Rabbi Gevalt’s car didn’t have a roadworthy, it did travel a little further.
“Why don’t you want to have a barmitzvah, Solly?”
“Well …He didn’t have one!” And he pointed at the culprit.
They all looked at Gabor’s legs which quickly withdrew under the car.
“Gabor!” cried his wife. “ Come out and face the rabbis like a man!”
“Your husband didn’t have a barmitzvah? “
On the bimah, Gabor fingered the spanner that he’d put in his suit pocket, just in case, and read his one line for his barmitzvah with his son: you shall flee even when there is no pursuer.
When father and son stepped down together from the bimah, Chaya ran to hug her son.
“Bubbeleh! My Solly! A man!”
I’m not Bubbeleh. I’m not Solly. I’m Solomon, and he ran off to fossick for lollies off the synagogue floor.
Gabor saw Chaya’s bottom lip tremble. He fingered his spanner, then let it go.
He whispered close. “Don’t cry Chayaleh. You can call me Bubbeleh any time”.