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Stranded in Corona Tel Aviv
by Albert Russo

In the times of Matthew and Salem (Mathusalem is for the birds), there was supposed to be a miracle on account that of the 7 oil lamps of the menorah - it’s a candle holder and has nothing to do with minors - only one was lit and it lasted 8 days, so that the other 6 lamps could also be lit in turn. Ok, you don’t have to believe all of this, but that’s the reason why the Jews celebrate. But what I like about it is the food they eat, like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), which are both deep-fried in oil. Mmm … lekker (‘delicious’ in Afrikaans, I’ve already told you) ve tam meod (‘and sooo tasty’, in Hebrew - no it’s not ‘meow’, pay attention!).

Often Christmas and Hanukkah fall around the same time, so that Jews in America (mainly) celebrate the two holidays and have double fun.

After another two cool weeks in Israel, my uncle and I were preparing our suitcases to fly back home, ie. Paris. The following day, when, watching the English-speaking Israeli channel i-24 News, we saw the words: ‘Alert, alert!’.

Because of a new and very dangerous virus that was settling all over the world and plaguing this country too, the Authorities had suddenly decided to close the borders as well as all the airports. Consequently, nobody, locals and tourists alike, was allowed to leave or enter the land, to protect the population from what looked like a helluva pandemonic.

Unky Berky became as pale as Feta cheese and his face looked all creased like them old Egyptian papyri - yeah that’s the plural of papyrus, and NOT of papy which means ‘granpa’ in French!

“Wa … ba … ba ..” stuttered my uncle.

I was going to sing ‘Baa baa Black sheep, have you any wool’, but then I told myself to shut the fook up, coz it wasn’t appropriate.

“Da …da … darling,” he managed to say, “what are we going to do? We’re stuck in a foreign country. We can’t stay in this hotel, the package deal is over and it would cost much too much.”

I was going to tell him to stop being so stingy, but then something clicked in my mind and I kept quiet for a few seconds, then said: “Don’t they have airbags lodgings here?”

“Ah, you mean air bnb! I did’t think of that alternative. Oh Zupeleh - listen how he twists my name Yddishwise now! -, what would I do without my clever Tootsileh?” - another stoopid monika he gives me when I suggest something he likes.

Then, his eyes refocusing, he added, “Let’s google on my i-Pad. To keep expenses down, we’ll choose a little studio with a kitchenette, so that we will be able to cook home and avoid going to restaurants.”

Excerpt 5 from CORONA ZAPINETTE by Albert Russo