The voice of the man on the phone was pleasant and warm.
"I have some very interesting information for you!" he said.
"What kind of information?" I asked.
"Well, you probably know that your grandfathers cousin Ariel, was married twice. His two children, Bruria and Yoel, are therefore your cousins. What you may not know is that his second wife, Sarah, brought two children to this marriage - David and Benjamin. They are, although not directly, also your cousins. I suppose you have never met them, although they live here in Jerusalem. They both have families and five children between them, which are also related to you. So we would like to invite you for a visit in Jerusalem because Benjamin wants to build a family tree and he would appreciate your help!"
"What did you say your name was?" I asked, as I tried to process what was just said to me.
"Oh, I am Eliahu, Eli for short!" he said happily.
"Well, you see, Eli, I have tried this family tree business once or twice and it didnt work," I said plainly. "I am or was blessed with very large families on both sides, and it seemed to me that building a family tree for both sides would be a full-time job; one of my difficulties for instance was that, as soon as I think that I am done with one branch, suddenly pops up another cousin out of nowhere and I have no idea what to do with him and where to put him. So I really dont see how I can help you!"
"There must be something you can do, after all you are an Eppelboim!" he said, unrelenting.
"What am I? An Eppelboim?" I said in confusion.
"Of course, the Eppelboims were and still are a very large and well-known family, so what do you say?" he nagged.
"Eli, I am not an Eppelboim! I am not any kind of Boim! I never was, this must be a mistake!" I said, slightly confused.
"Wasn''t your maiden name Eppelboim? Benjamin found you on the internet and he''s so happy that he finally got hold of you! Are you sure? Your grand-cousins know all about you! You worked in the Tel-Aviv Municipality and you had a very important job!"
"Eli, why dont you believe me? I am not an Eppelboim , I dont know who they are and I never even met an Eppelboim! This is a big mistake!"
"Wasn''t your husband related to an Eppelboim?" he asked, trying to salvage the conversation.
"No, most definitely not. I am sorry, but I am in a rush, and must go," I said at last.
I was sorry for the disappointed man, but I hung up the phone.
Next day, another phone call.
"I am Benjamin," the man said cheerfully, "and whether you like it or not, we are family. Maybe Eli didnt explain this well enough. We are building this family tree and we need every small information available. I will transmit to you the site where we found you, so you cannot deny the connection. I know this may come as a surprise to you, but we are all such nice people, you will love being part of our clan!"
"Benjamin, listen to me," I said patiently, " Maybe I will explain better to you than I did to Eli: My name is not Eppelboim, I never even knew one. Oh wait, now I remember that the name of my ulpan teacher was Birnboim, but this by no means connects me to the Eppelboims or Birnboims! Ididn''t even like my ulpan teacher, and I certainly refuse being related to him! I am really sorry that I am not able to help!"
There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone. Then Benjamin came back:
"We would come to pick you up from Haifa, could we? We would even drive you back," he asked, hopefully.
"No, I really don''t think that is a good idea, Benjamin," I said.
I felt cloud of sadness descend upon Benjamin on the other end of the line.
"But... butwe can stay in touch," he insists, "maybe something new will come up and I will keep on researching on my end!"
"Fine, Benjamin," I said, "it was so nice to meet two pseudo relatives, you and Eli, and whenever you are in Haifa, you may come and visit if you would like."
The telephone call left me a bit thoughtful. These two were so convincing, so maybe I am really an Eppelboim somewhere, and I dont even know it!I will have to think about this.