The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

Immanuel aka Mani
by Albert Russo

The other boy I told you about is Immanuel. They call him Mani; that name suits him better, and he has mani things I like. Whereas Ishmael makes me think of a dashing golden deer, jumping and gamboling in the forest to look for his belle, Mani is more like a beautiful wolf, sitting on top of a boulder, watching the world beneath, and maybe thinking of what he might catch for his next meal - no, not a deer, coz these two are great buddies.

Mani comes from a Jewish ultra-Orthodox family that lives in Mea Shearim, a religious quarter in Jerusalem. He explained to me what kind of people they are. The men spend the whole day praying and reading the Torah. Outside, they walk in long black clothes and wear black fur hats. These come in a variety: shtreimels (in Yddish) are short, wide and shaped ligh donuts (mmm, with strawberry jellow), while spodiks are rounder, narrower and taller, then you have the kolpiks, which are the same as spodiks but in brown fur. Pick me a winner, I says. I’m sure ‘shush’ is a Yiddish word.

These poor men - and yeah, they ARE dirt poor - wear old pants tucked into their old socks, with an old coat covering it all, like their Polish ancestors. They wear all of this, no matter what the temperature is, which I find disco-mom-billowing, and downright cruel, coz in Summer when it sizzles, Israeli youngsters and even oldsters run around in shorts, sandals and t-shirts, sometimes, bare chested. Because of that heavy armor, these Haredi men lack vitamin D and fall ill, at the slightest cold. They catch their chill, and sometimes their death, if they don’t go to the doctor, as they should, coz here medical health is free, for all and sundry, especially on Sunday, since, in Israel, it is the beginning of the week, not Monday. It’s the Jews who invented the weekend.

Mani has six brothers and five sisters, wa wo wee! His father and uncles do nothing but pray and chant, while his mom and his older sisters work to earn money; they also cook, wash clothes and look after the other kids. That I call female slavery. Of course, I didn’t say this to Mani, it would the same as him blaming my uncle for being a clostet homey.

Once married, Orthodox women aren’t allowed to show their hair in public. They either wear a headscarf or a sheitel - a ‘wig’. The most zealous among them shave their heads, not to make their hubbies jealous.

The men have sidecurls that look like twisted strands of licorice (mmm … I could munch on licorice for hours). Some let their hair, mustache, sideburns and beards grow very long, on account that they want to show who is the man of the family, yet, they don’t go around bragging that it is the women who work to maintain the whole family, ain’t that strange?