Friday, January 26, 1996

Ya’akov in WonderLand or 2084

Ya’akov in WonderLand or 2084                                                                                                                                                                                                                             January 26, 1996

“Ya’akov, Ya’kov, wake up.  Today you are going on a classtrip.  You’ve been waiting so long - get up and get dressed fast. You don’t want to miss the bus.”
                Twelve-year old Ya’akov jumped out of bed and, lickity-split, was dressed and ready to go.  Today was to be a very special day. In preparation for their ‘coming-of-age’, the class was being taken to the Wonderland Museum in Tel Aviv.  “The Wonderland Museum,” the teacher had told them, “is not a real museum.  It’s a fantasy land - with movies, magic mirrors, and other unreal exhibits.  The StoryTeller, a narration, relates legends of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.”  “Remember,” he had stressed, “some all of the stories aren’t true - they are fictional legends.  But this is part of our heritage and culture.  Of course, this isn’t modern culture, as we know it today - it is a primitive kind of culture, describing lifestyles foreign to our everyday way of life.  But just as you learn about Greek myths and ancient Roman divinities, so you must be familiar with such Jewish folklore.”
                The class entered the museum into a spacious room with beautiful pictures adorning the walls. 
“Children,” began the StoryTeller, “this is the beginning of our journey through Israel’s unique Wonderland.  From now on, for the next two hours, you must listen carefully, follow instructions, and keep your eyes open.  You must also keep totally silent.  NO QUESTIONS ARE ALLOWED.  This is a cardinal rule.  Any child discussing what he sees or who asks any questions during our special journey will be promptly removed from the group and punished.  And now we begin.....”
                “You are presently in the Jerusalem Room.  This room represents the legendary capital of the ancient Israelites.  Look to your right to see ‘Jerusalem - Old and New’.”  The children viewed a fascinating sound and light show, portraying King David capturing Jerusalem and his son Solomon’s construction of the ‘Temple’.  “Please note that David conquered the city from it’s previous Palestinian citizens.  You have all been taught that the Jews are not a conquering people.  Look to your left.”  The children watched in silence as an army marched into an ancient walled city.  “This is the famous 1967 War of Liberation, when Jerusalem was returned to it’s original and rightful nation.  Today, the site known in Jewish legend as Jerusalem is called El-Kuds, the capital of modern Palestine.”
                One of the children nudged his friend.  “You know, this is really strange.  I read in an old book I found up in the attic about the 1967 six-day war, when Jerusalem was liberated from the Arabs and returned to Israel.  This StoryTeller is weird.” 
                The StoryTeller burst out, “WonderGuards, there, those two boys standing in the third row, in the middle, yes, those two, they are partaking in subversive conversation.  Remove them at once.”  The two boys were swept away before anyone knew what had happened.
                “Please enter the next room.  Sit down in the chairs and watch.”  The chairs began moving, taking the children through a medly of Jewish history.  Three old men with wrinkled faces and long white beards, walking with crooked wood canes appeared.  “We are the legendary Forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  We founded Judaism, thousands of years ago.”  One of the figures stepped forward and exclaimed, “Of course, I am the father of both Yishmael and Yitzhak.”  The second old man spoke up and said, “I am the father of both Asav  and Ya’akov.”   The third man said nothing.
                The three men vanished and a single figure and someone else began speaking with them.  “My name is Moshe.  I led the Israelites through the sea.”  The children found themselves members of a huge chain of people, crossing the Red Sea.
                The StoryTeller continued. “Move into the next room.  Here you will see, not fictional people, but images of real persons who lived in Israel.  They look strange because they really were.  In spite of the fact that they lived in Israel, they were not Israelis. Presently and extinct species, they were called ‘mitnachalim’ or ‘settlers’.   They were known for criminal activities.  Most of them were subversives, who  participated in acts against the state.”  The children viewed very strange-looking creatures, as if they were looking through magic mirrors.  “If you think that we have perverted these images in any way, you are wrong,” continued the StoryTeller.  This is really the way they were.  Mutations.  Thankfully, just as the dinasaurs, they have disappeared from the face of the earth.”
                Herded into the next room, the children found themselves in the midst of more, strange figures.  “These people were known as ‘religious’ Jews.  They used to pray.  The room you are in is the reproduction of a ‘synagoge’ or house of prayer.”
                One of the children couldn’t help himself and called out, “What is prayer?  What did they do?”
The StoryTeller yelled back, “No questions - any more outbursts and you will all be punished.”  The child who asked the question was, of course, removed by the WonderGuards.
                On to the next room.  “This is the city of El-Khalil.  It used to be known, in olden days, as Hebron.  The Jewish sect that lived here belonged to the ‘mitnachalim’.  Those residing here in El-Khalil were particularly vicious.  The big building on the right is the El-Ibrahimi Mosque.  It is the second most Palestinian holy place, after the mosque in El Kuds.  The mitnachalim claimed it for their own, but of course, this was totally false.  It was rightfully restored to its original owners.”
                Ya’akov jumped and had to restrain himself from speaking out.  He had seen this very same building somewhere, before today.  Thinking hard, searching in his mind, he suddenly hit upon it.  He had seen the picture in an old dusty book he found in the cellar.  The book, called Hebron, City of the Patriarchs, included a full-page color picture of this strange-looking building.  There were also pictures of Hebron’s citizens, and they didn’t look at all like the ‘mitnachalim’ they had been shown in the other room.  They looked like real, regular people, just like himself.  The stories in the book were of young brave Israelis. “I wonder what they were really like,” he thought to himself.
                “WonderGuards, WonderGuards - over there.  That boy in the stripped shirt.  He is a dangerous spy.  Out - now.  This is the end of the tour.  Remove them all, immediately!”
                Ya’akov found himself being dragged out of the room and was suddenly swallowed up into a sea of darkness.
                That night four sets of parents received notification that their children, being of extraordinary talent, were being trained for special service in the Wonderland Museum.  This was to be their permanent occupation and  they would no longer be returning home.

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