A MAN wraps fresh matza during Passover in Ashdod in 2016.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
My home was broken into recently, in the middle of the night – to paraphrase Michael Corleone, while my family was sleeping.
Waking up in the morning to the police outside the door asking why my wife’s and my work bags were downstairs in the street is not the optimal way to start the day. Then realizing that my daughter’s car was missing, along with the key to my car and the house keys, quickly woke us up faster than a double espresso.
A number of police detectives were milling around outside, checking out the remaining car and inspecting our bags. One of them, a plainclothed cop who looked like he had walked out of a Fauda casting call, asked me some questions.
After getting ourselves together my son-in-law and I drove in the police van to the nearby station, where we had to fill out a report with a uniformed detective.
We ascertained that besides the car and the keys, the only items that seemed to be missing were my wife’s credit cards and checkbooks. Piecing together information we were hearing from the police talking to each other and to other neighbors who were at the station, we learned that three homes had been broken into that night, and the police had photos of the thieves leaving town in my daughter’s car. The police suspected a crime gang from either the nearby Palestinian town of Azariya or the Beduin encampments on the way down to the Dead Sea from Ma’aleh Adumim.
After finishing the report, the detective said that they were keeping the work bags and their contents to take fingerprints and he would call me in a day or two when I could pick them up.
A couple of days later, I got a call that I could come by. The detective greeted me and handed me a trash bag that contained our stuff.
“Any chance you’ll catch them,” I asked?
The detective smiled and said, “There’s always a chance, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
We haven’t heard back from him since, but a few days later, my wife received a phone call from a man identifying himself as Muhammad from Ramallah.
“I was walking and saw a checkbook on the sidewalk. It had your name and number in it,” he said. “Do you want me to mail it back to you?”
My wife profusely thanked him and asked him to rip up the checkbook into small pieces and throw it away. After doing so, he sent her a photo of the evidence.
Summing up the experience, she said, “A few days ago, I didn’t know anybody in Ramallah. Now I know two people – the one who broke into my house and Muhammad, who found my checkbook and wanted to return it.”
In Israel, we like to generalize and stereotype. It’s a national pastime. All the Arabs are terrorists, settlers are violent and messianic, Leftists are spineless and anti-Zionists, and the Right is just hard-line loonies. And woe if you try to paint something that’s less black and white and more nuanced, you’re considered out of touch with reality.
But it comes down to us just being people, a society full of good people and thieves, cops trying to do their jobs and someone in Ramallah with a good heart.
As we sit down for our Passover Seder, it’s good to remember that we were not brought out of Egypt to all be the same, with identical beliefs, interests and ideas. Celebrate the differences, respect and be tolerant of the other, welcome the stranger. Open your door wide for Eliyahu the Prophet, but at the end of the night don’t forget to lock it.