Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rabin: The Mourning After ... Twenty Years Later

Much has been written recently about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin as yesterday was the 20th anniversary of his murder.  Analysis has understandably focused on the effect of Rabin's policies given the current tensions between Arab and Israelis and how politics have changed in Israel since his death. 

In this article I spoke to several Israeli friends who were teenagers when Rabin was murdered. What were the days after Rabin's death like for them? How did his murder impact their lives? Do they still believe in his vision of peace or are they resigned to the conflict? Here are their answers. 

After the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on November 4, 1995  young people stood day and night at the site of which is now called Rabin Square to mourn the prime minister. They stood vigil with candles and were called “The Candle Children.” The photographs at the time depicted young people seemingly lost in darkness with a small flicker of light shining on their mournful faces.

However, not everyone who was young during Rabin’s assassination considered themselves part of the “Candle Children.” They or their families didn’t support his politics. Nevertheless, the assassination was the most impactful national event of their lives and the reverberations of the gunshot that ended Israel’s innocence can still be felt today.

Shahar, a tour guide from Pardes Chana took part in the rally and heard the shots. He went home after the rally and found out that Rabin had died. He returned the next day.

“The day after the assassination I arrived at the square and there were a lot of people who sang, lit candles, and wrote messages on the walls of City Hall,” Shahar said.

Children and teenagers who weren’t at the rally also remember where they were when they heard the news.

“I was at home watching the Peace Rally,”  said Tomer, the director of nonprofit outside Jerusalem. “After he was shot, there were reports on the news all of the time, but no one believed he would die. When it was announced that he died, we were so shocked.”

Lior, a graduate student, woke his parents up to tell them the news that Rabin had been shot.

“I remember my parents crying,” Lior said.

Lior visited the site of the assassination a few days later to light a candle.

“Children and teenagers from the youth movements filled the square,” Lior said. “The ones from Tel Aviv and the youth movements were there all of the time.”  

Efrat, a photographer from Eilat, didn’t go to Tel Aviv, but  did visit Rabin’s grave a few days after his death.

“I remember the days after the assassination were extremely sad days in Israel,” Efrat said. "Many people had faith in him wanting him to finally bring peace to our region. They didn’t think anyone else could fit in his shoes.”

The aftermath of the assassination was devastating for Israel and the peace process.

“Before he was murdered there was hope for peace,”  Tomer said. “After, the hope was replaced by a pessimism about the future of our nation and the possibility to conduct a real dialogue among people with different points of view.

Eran, an IT director from Ramat Gan did not support Rabin’s politics and in fact blames him for some of Israel’s problems today.

“I was right wing then, I am right wing today,” Eran said. “However, I was against his murder then and I am against his murder today.”

For Shahar, it propelled him to understand how important it is to be an active member of society.

“If you let other people get involved for you, that’s when disaster happens,” Shahar said.

So what exactly is Rabin’s legacy for the “Candle Children?”  

“He believed in giving everything of yourself for the sake of the state,” Tomer said. “ He believed that you have to fight to the end to protect the state, but also strive to change and reach out for peace.”

Lior agreed.

“He was a soldier and a general and towards the end of his life he realized that this particular conflict cannot be solved with military force,” Lior said.

Yariv, a banker in Tel Aviv,  lit a candle at the Square after Rabin’s murder. He said the lesson to Israel from the devastating event was “the importance of unity over being right.”

Shahar echoed Yariv’s sentiment. “Rabin always did what he thought was right for the country. He was always brave.”

Is the hope for peace gone? Perhaps for some it has dimmed, but for Efrat, she still envisions a better future and that one day  “there will be a genuine peace agreement that will open this amazing Middle East to the world where there are no real borders and anyone could come and visit and cross between countries like they cross between states in the US.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Musings about living in Israel October 2015

This latest terrorist wave is coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was murdered on November 4, 1995 by a Jewish extremist. Rabin will certainly be memorialized next month, but he will also be cursed by some who blame him for the situation Israel is in now. 

Those who curse him are simply wrong. 

The Oslo Accords were a failure. No doubt. But they weren't Rabin's failure. Their methodology was flawed to begin with. International Relations experts have said that the implementation was too protracted which gave too much time for the entrenchment of naysayers. In addition, the Oslo Accords required too much Palestinian-Israeli interdependence, when was they needed was total separation. This separation would have been difficult, but necessary for two successful states. 

But he had the courage to try and probably would have made it right. Who knows? 


So here we are 20 years later with rocket attacks last summer and knife attacks this fall. When I went to the mall today, the security guard didn't just ask me if I was carrying a gun,  he added another element to his script. 

"Do you have a knife, Mrs?" 

I wanted to ask him if I should carry one, but I smiled, nodded no, and parked. 

After yesterday's attack in Jerusalem, I bought fruit from a vendor outside the doctor's office. He was arranging the bananas when a frequent customer told him about the killings. He said in Hebrew, "Us or Them?" The wording was so casual. It's like when I was living near Wrigley Field and I heard cheering from the stadium. Who hit a home run, "Us or Them?" When he received the answer he moaned and went on to decry the state of the country. I had to get his attention as he delved into the media pouring from his phone and asked, "Can I pay for my bananas?" He gave me a 25 cent discount. 


When a terrorist is shot, the Israeli media is using the tern "neutralized." I hate the coldness of the word. It lacks humility. It sounds like something out of a movie script or a line from Homeland. And although we live our lives on media and can watch these attacks on Facebook, "neutralize" somehow diminishes these events removing any semblance of humanity.


The other day an Israeli policewoman helped to subdue a terrorist, never dropping her Magnum ice cream bar. 

They are that good. The ice cream. 


Am I scared? I don't think something will actually happen to me. However, today I drove to the mall which is across the street, rather than walked like I usually do to try to lose some of the baby weight. Had I been by myself, I would have walked. But with my baby, no way. It's funny how different you are when you have children. When I was single and visiting, I rode the bus during the Second Intifada. Now, I won't walk across the street. Even getting the fruit yesterday I felt was a calculated risk. It's because it's not just about me anymore. 

Do I think the violence will end? Yes, absolutely. But it will also return again. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when.

One of the reasons is the martyrdom mentality of the extremist Muslims. Alaa Abu Jamal yesterday killed and wounded two men before being shot. Ironically, he had been interviewed by an Israeli news site a year ago after a relative had perpetrated an ax attack murdering five as they prayed in a synagogue. He celebrated the deaths of the men as well as the martyrdom of his family members. How can you reason with someone who thinks their God wants them to be shot by police, and that is the best work that they can do in the name of their religion? 

But something he said during the interview was very telling. The interviewer asked him if he thought other Palestinians would commit acts similar his cousin's. He answered, "Only God knows. No one knows. Everyone is responsible for his own actions."

I never thought I would agree with a terrorist, but he's right. Everyone is responsible for his own actions. There's no historical, religious, or political justification for committing acts of terror. These are acts by bad men and women, not acts of God. 


When a Muslim commits a terrorist attack, he or she reportedly says Allahu Akbar, loosely translated to God is the greatest. I was thinking moderate Muslims could do a Public Service announcement, like the ones in the US with the rainbow that reads, "The More You Know" with the following, "God is Great. So are all of the people he creates. Don't be a martyr! Be a hero!" 

Leo Burnett has a branch in Jordan. Maybe I'll set up a meeting.

"I don't think the police should kill the attackers," I told a friend yesterday. "Being a prisoner is less prestigious than a martyr. If they survive it will be a deterrent."

"I think they should," he said. "Why should they be treated by our hospitals?

I wonder if there is insurance for terrorists for failed martyrdom. What is the deductible?


When I went to the mall this morning, I asked the pharmacist, who is Arab, if he'd be willing to take a faxed prescription because I had lost mine. He was really apologetic and said no, it was against the law. He told me the name of a Jewish pharmacist (he didn't say Jewish, I just knew by the name) who was old and "didn't give a f-ck" who would fill it. I told him I would just go back to the doctor, but I didn't really feel like being out and about right now because of the situation. 

He said looking downtrodden, "You're right. The traffic to Herzliya is brutal at this hour." 


I was angry at my Israeli husband for not calling me all day yesterday.

"I know you are cavalier about these things, but it upset me that you didn't call."

And I know what he was thinking, even though he hates when I say I know what he is thinking. What does calling you have anything to do with terrorist attacks?

"Okay," he said. "I'll call you more tomorrow."


When I lived here almost 20 years ago, I read a lot of Yehuda Amichai poems. 

"Mr. Amichai, would you change your famous poem the Diameter of a Bomb to the Range of a Rocket or a the Length of a Blade? Or would you consider adding more verses."

"No," he said. "The poem is fine as it is." 

"What Israeli poets should I be reading today?" I asked. 

"There are no Israeli poets today," he said. "They've all died or moved to Silicon Valley."


Twenty years on as Rabin is remembered, reviled, or ignored, any analysis of him is incomplete without acknowledging that at least he tried to make peace with the Palestinians. He was courageous. The current leadership has no desire for peace, no ideas, just pockets full of bandages of bullets, bombs, and Iron Domes.

My daughter jumped off a trampoline and sprained her ankle. Yes, she was bandaged and recovered. But she doesn't jump off trampolines anymore, although she probably could, get another bandage and be fine. Is the Zionist dream now simply to stop the bleeding rather than achieve peace? 

Don't be mad, but I'm going to quote President Obama from his 2013 speech in Jerusalem. 

First, peace is necessary.   I believe that.  I believe that peace is the only path to true security.   You have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future.  Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.   That is true.
There are other factors involved.  Given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation.  And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people over the long term is through the absence of war.  Because no wall is high enough and no Iron Dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm.
You know he's right. Even if you don't like him, just admit it. It's okay. It will be between you and and me.
So who is going to have the courage to bring Israel out of war and into a new age? 

Who and where is she? 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What etiquette you should follow when applying for a job through Facebook

Several months ago I posted a job opening on Facebook. Using this mechanism was very fruitful, but also extremely disheartening. Many of the people who were interested had no concept of how to appropriately respond to the opportunity. While often Millennials are criticized and belittled for their disregard of convention and formality, I found that they were absolutely not the biggest offenders. My peers in their late 30s, 40s and 50s had no sense that they way they responded to the post would reflect on how the employer (me) would view them.

Therefore I thought it would be helpful to provide tips for how to apply for a job posted on social media.

  1. Read the post carefully.
This tells the employer whether or not your pay attention to detail and can, well, read.  Examples of mistakes caused by not reading closely:
  • Don’t comment with questions that are answered in the post. If you do so accidently, delete the comment immediately.
  • What mechanism does the employer want you to use to contact her? Don’t respond in a comment or a chat if the employer writes, “Please send your resume to”

2. Respond appropriately
This tells the employer if you are a good communicator and will represent the organization well.
Example of mistakes caused by not reading closely:
  • Don’t chat with a potential employer like you are chatting with a friend.
    After I posted the position on Facebook, I started receiving Facebook chats, even though I requested that the messages should be sent via email. I understood that when a job is posted on Facebook, someone might want to respond using the social media tool. However, the way people chatted was unacceptable. “Hey, what’s up. heard ur looking for some1 for your trip. id like to learn more.”  There are so many problems with this sentence. Besides the informal nature and the grammar, the person doesn’t actually ask any kind of decent question. “I’d like to learn more” isn’t actually an inquiry. It’s telling me how you feel. A better statement would be “I see that you are looking for a person with education experience. I have been teaching for three years. When would be a good time to speak more about the position?”
  • Don’t use emoticons or acronyms. Please. :) ! ;)  LOL
  • Write the chat or email as if you were writing a formal inquiry. Don't write, "Hey," write, "Dear Jennifer." Use conventional grammar, capitalization, and spelling. Typically when you chat you don't use an apostrophe or capitalize letters. I understand. But when applying for a position, you need to.
  • If the position asks for certain qualifications, and you don’t have them, you shouldn’t apply. Especially if the qualification includes certification or degrees. Just because the job is posted on Facebook doesn’t make the process of hiring or working less serious.
  • Consider your profile picture (and other pictures) before you apply. If your picture is of you doing shots or voicing a radical political message, your judgment will come into question.
  • Don’t friend me. I’m not looking for a friend, I’m looking for an applicant. You can add me on LinkedIn.
  • If I ask you for a resume or other questions, respond immediately. The beauty of Facebook is that the hiring process can go very quickly. You don’t want to be left behind.

I know some of this probably came across as quite harsh. However, I do hope I’m doing a public service. These things do matter and are easy to fix in the future. Best of luck!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Camp Isn't For Everyone and That's Okay

As I see the pictures of friends who had children before me waving goodbye to their tweens on their first journey to the overnight camp where their parents met, or moms had their first kiss, or dad had the lead in the play, I can’t help but hope that they have a great summer, while wanting to shout through the Facebook universe:

You may not like camp and that’s okay.

As a Jewish educator, such words are risky to state out loud. Jewish camp is considered to be the gold standard of our religion. Everyone always asks at meetings, “How can we make Hebrew school to be more like camp so kids will like it?”  That question does not resonate with me. In fact, when I tell a colleague, after knowing them very well, that I didn't like camp, it feels like making a revelation like I was a Heroin addict as a child. The colleague doesn't understand how someone like me couldn't love camp. I have to give them some space and eventually their distrust of me fades. 

I went to a Jewish camp going into 5th, 6th and 7th grades and really did not like it. It doesn’t mean I didn’t like every second of it. I wasn’t crying, homesick for my parents. I just did not enjoy it. I don’t blame the camp. Many of my friends went there through high school, ended up being counselors, and even professional staff there. However, it was just not for me.

Why wasn’t it for me? I was really into sports at a time when perhaps many Jewish girls weren’t. So all of the sports activities were with the boys, and they ranged from tolerant of my presence to mean about my physicality. There was also an advanced sexuality at camp that I wasn’t ready for. I had my first kiss at 16, not 11 or 12. However, I felt inferior because that milestone seemed to be the goal of camp, a goal I wasn’t interested in but without understanding why. My third year I was asked on a “walk” by a boy, David.  He held my hand and I’m pretty sure it morphed into liquid as I sweated my way down the 100-foot path. As he wiped my sweat from his palms on his khaki pants, I walked away  filled with embarrassment, never wanting to speak to him again.

I also often felt lonely and sad during rest periods or on Shabbat. I’ve never been great at relaxing and kicking back.  As a kid, I needed a lot of stimulation and wasn’t much of a napper.

So you might ask, why did I go for three years?

Well, I thought camp was something you had to do like going to school.  My older brothers had gone to camp and so I did too. I didn’t complain to my parents just because I wasn’t really much of a complainer. After my third summer, when they received a letter detailing the 20 times I had been to the infirmary in 28 day,s did they catch on that something was wrong.

When they asked about it, I confessed that I didn’t like camp at all. So they asked me, “Why did you keep going?” and I told them I thought I had to.  I also thought it might get better. When they explained that it cost a lot of money and that I shouldn’t go if I didn’t like it, I was astounded and relieved.  I wish I could tell you that the next summer I went to an all girls’ sports camp and loved it. However, I also didn’t enjoy being with a bunch of snotty girls who had managed to not go through puberty yet, while at age 13 I wore two bras on the soccer field. At some point, I faked the intensity of an injury  (I got hit by a fast ball on the thigh) so I could go home.  At that point, I must admit I missed the Jewish camp.

Because there were good things at that Jewish camp. Some of the people I met were really nice. In fact, we connected later in life.  I enjoyed the Debbie Friedman prayers that I had never heard before. Given that I went to Jewish Day School, I was the star of the Color War Quiz Bowl, forever known as Rabbi Sharna.   I remember loving a couple of my counselors, one who bought me a journal because she could tell I needed one, (and perhaps a therapist.) I had a few solos in performances. The one I remember was in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”  I remember the campfire and the stories that Rabbi told in front of it that I would think about for days after.  I still remember a relaxation exercise that a counselor told us and have used it many times since, including on my nieces who refused to go to bed one night that I was babysitting. I also still recall an activity that we did on whether the Messiah will come one day and bring the Messianic age or do we bring about the utopian vision by our good deeds. 

So, whose fault was it that I didn’t like camp? Was the camp bad? Was I just a really weird, socially awkward, maladjusted kid?  There may have been some parts of camp that could have been improved, and for sure I had some issues as a kid, but I don’t think it was anyone’s fault.  A lot of parents I know would raise hell at the camp failing their kid, but I would just tell them:

Camp just isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

If your kid comes home and doesn’t aim to be a song leader later in life, or isn’t  begging to go to the reunion in October, or just plainly says I am never going back there even if you pay me, don’t feel like a failure as a parent.  Even if you are asked to take your child home, again, it’s not the end of the world and shouldn’t necessarily indicative of many future failures.

Repeat after me: Camp just isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

One year a student of mine asked me to advocate on his behalf with the director of a Camp who had banned him from attending because of the student’s behavior the previous summer. I called the Director, a legend in the community, and offered my observations of the student’s growth in ninth grade. The camp director wasn’t having it and talked about camp being a privilege, especially for someone receiving financial aid, and how this kid did not deserve the privilege.
So I said to my student,

Repeat after me: Camp just isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

That student has gone on to be very successful, in jail. No just kidding. He’s in medical school.  

As an afterwards, I did end up going back to Jewish camp. This time I was 16 years old and attended a four-week seminar on Judaism and three weeks on leadership in Pennsylvania. I loved it.  I did have my first kiss there, sweaty palms and all, but felt smothered by the relationship and broke up with the guy 24 hours later.

This post is dedicated to my very best friend, Amy Silver Judd. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Etgar Keret

She sat in a Cafe Greg grading her students’ flash fiction stories as her husband played with their two-year-old daughter at Gymboree on the first floor of the Herzliya mall, the one by the beach. They came there every Saturday during the winter so Maya could expend energy and so that Ms. Cohen (not Mrs. Cohen, she frequently and annoyingly - to both parties- corrected her students; she hadn’t taken her husband’s name) could grade papers. She sipped a chai latte and avoided the glares of impatiently waiting customers wanting her crappy table inside the mall, not with a view of the sea. She also looked down when the pretty waitress approached the table asking her if she wanted something else. She knew that "something else" was a euphemism for “Your 18 NIS Chai Latte isn’t going to pay for my trip to South America.” But alas, everyone had their cross to bare, and Ms. Cohen’s was grading papers on a Saturday instead of playing with her daughter and occasionally holding her husband’s hand. 

However, if she were honest with herself, she had no desire to step foot in the germ-ridden, dirty Gymboree with balls wet from saliva and snot dripping, symptoms of the winter illnesses suffered by seemingly every child in Israel. So she was thankful for the mall cafe’s comfortable chairs, the nutmeg on her chai latte, and mostly for her husband who was dealing with the aggressive children, the loud parents, and the bad smell of the decades old pop corn machine. She was finishing grading a story about a student not being able to think about anything to write for this assignment when her red pen began fading. She pressed hard to circle the apostrophe he had incorrectly placed. She wondered if her red pen had suddenly remembered that it was the Sabbath, and no one should be working on the Sabbath. 

She looked around for a shop to buy a red pen when she saw him. He was downstairs with his wife and preteen son in between the Gap Kids’ 50 percent off sign and the wannabee Shuk in the mall featuring a Hello Kitty table filled with products such as a razor kit that seemed nonsensical to brand itself with a  cat. Ms. Cohen hated Hello Kitty. She didn’t like cats in general and in Israel, where cats served the same purpose as American squirrels, had propelled her dislike in to pure
hatred. Also, why didn’t Hello Kitty have a mouth? She guessed it was a patriarchal statement that women should be seen and not heard. Had he stopped to look at the Hello Kitty table, she would have been appalled. But, thank God, he hadn’t. Why was he at a mall in Herzliya  anyways? He belonged in an independent coffee house in Tel Aviv drinking straight espresso, but not smoking a cigarette.  The cigarette would be cliche and she no longer tolerated cigarettes since her daughter’s hospitalization for RSV and subsequent asthma. She lost sight of him and immediately regretted not going after him. But what would she say? “My students read your Flash Fiction and now I’m grading their own pieces of creative writing.”  He’d respond with an awkward smile and a glance of “leave me alone.” She called her husband to report the celebrity sighting. He didn’t answer. Perhaps he was playing with their daughter and not reading a liberal blogger on his phone. She returned to her papers when after correcting yet another incorrectly punctuated sentence, her red pen officially called it a day and headed to synagogue. She hadn’t been to synagogue since she had moved to Israel. She had never been less religious in her life. The other day her daughter saw Shabbat candles and started singing "Happy Birthday." How pathetic to have a pen more religious than she! As she continued to shake the red pen trying to find some remaining ink she felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Do you need a something to write with?” Etgar Keret asked in English. That annoyed her. How do Israelis always know when they spot an American? He and his family were waiting for a table, probably one with a view of the sea and not Gap Kids.

“Yes, I do, thank you,” Ms. Cohen said watching Etgar Keret look at the sprawled stories, taking almost every inch of the small circular table.  

He handed her a sharpened pencil. How would she grade papers with a pencil? She thought back to her liberal professor in education school who blamed the red pen for demoralizing young people so that they hated writing. A special education teacher recently chastised her for using a red pen. But red was her favorite color so she ignored the professionals and continued to ruin the lives of her students.

“Thank you,” she said insincerely.

“What are these papers about?”

“Well, they are pieces of creative writing.”

“Why have you marked them up like that? Isn’t that mean?”

“It’s my job. If I’m not mean, I will be told that I’m not doing my job.”

“That’s ridiculous. What are your students’ reading?”

“Actually, they read five of your short stories.”

He looked pleasantly surprised and asked, “What did they think?”

“Well,” she stammered wondering if honesty was the best policy, “They read you after Oscar Wilde and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. So, some of them didn’t understand why we were reading them; others appreciated the brevity.”

“Yes, I am good, but I am not Wilde or Marquez,” he said humbly.

“They also struggled with the notion of a talking fish,” she added. “I tried to explain that it was a Hebrew translation that they weren’t understanding, but teenagers are always skeptical.”

“They didn’t mind the premise of a man never aging, only his portrait does?” he asked.

“No, they didn’t seem to mind that,” she said.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “I’m going to grade the rest of these stories for you.”

“Oh no, Mr. Keret, I couldn’t have you do that,” she said.

“I insist,” he said.

How could she refuse? What an opportunity for her students to be read by an internationally-renowned author. What if he didn’t give them back, though? What would she tell the kids, their parents, and the principal?  But for some reason, she trusted him. She handed him her binder with the multiple drafts, story outlines, peer edits and asked him to have them ready a week before the semester ended when grades were due.

When she returned that Monday, she handed back the papers she had graded to her students and told the others that Etgar Keret would be grading theirs. Their reaction ranged from not caring, to disbelief, to excitement, to, “What if he’s a hard grader?”  She reassured them that if they were graded “too hard” she would adjust the scores.

Just as she had requested, one week before grades were due the binder appeared at the security desk with a box of sharpened pencils taped to it.  Ms. Cohen looked at the papers. He hadn’t marked them up, no, he had written “100 percent. A+.  Great Story! Keep writing!” at the top of every paper with his autograph. One one of the papers he had doodled a talking fish.

“Figures,” Ms. Cohen thought. Later that day, when she returned the batch of papers, the students who had received lower grades from her protested.

“It’s not fair,” they chimed.

Nothing was ever fair.

The next day she was called into the principal’s office. He showed her an email, written by the students, demanding that Etgar Keret grade all of their papers. She looked at the principal and asked him what he wanted her to do.

“You don't have to do anything,” the principal said. ”I spoke to Mr. Keret last night and he has agreed to be a guest English teacher here next semester. He will be taking your classes. You can sub for him when he goes on tour, but you will only receive sub pay."


He was grading papers with his pencil when she asked him how he would like his eggs cooked. He had ordered the Cafe Gregg breakfast.

“Scrambled,” he answered, not looking up.

"Would you like to add parsley, mushrooms and onions for five shekels?"

"Sure," he muttered.

“Toast?” she asked.

“Light bread,” he said.  

“Would you like your coffee now or after the meal?” she asked still writing the order down with her red pen.

“After, Mrs. Cohen, after,” he said shooing her away with his dull pencil.

“It’s Ms. Cohen, Mr. Keret,” she said with annoyance, but then remembering the possibility of a big tip she changed her tone and said, "But please, call me Karen."  

She entered the order into the computer, "accidentally" putting in a fattening croissant instead of light bread, and then made her way to the next table. It was the most tables she had every had; many of the other waitresses had called off because it was a Saturday and the previous night there had been a huge party of some sort at the beach. After her shift, she would go home to play with her daughter at the park. Since she had been demoted, they couldn’t afford the Gymboree anymore. However, on the plus side, when she finished work she didn’t have any papers to grade.

She couldn’t say the same for Etgar Keret.