This year it was a decidedly red-white-and-blue Yom Yerushalayim. Well at least it was for me and for over one hundred of my neighbors as well. Yes, you read that correctly. While virtually every year this special day is characterized by blue and white, this year a new dimension was added to the mix.
This day of supreme miracles is generally marked by flag dances, marches throughout the Old City, and both festive dancing and singing at the Kotel, attended by tens of thousands of euphoric celebrants. However, this year, due to scheduling limitations, our community-wide quarterly blood drive was likewise scheduled for Yom Yerushalayim.
My husband and children all joined the festivities in the holiest city on earth, where it all transpired during that remarkable week in June 1967. They accompanied their yeshivah (or ditched their class routine with a handful of friends) to take part in the excitement and enjoy the contagiously exuberant atmosphere. As for myself, I generally shun crowds and tumult, Birkat Kohanim at the Kotel being the rare exception. It was far more important for me to conserve my limited time and energy, tackle the overwhelming post-Shabbos clean up and laundry, and make the blood drive my priority instead. Of course, I watched some short but powerful online videos and read a few inspirational articles about Yom Yerushalayim, and needless to say, I savored the incredible and profound gratitude that for me most define this unique and awesome day. In addition, I wished a heartfelt mazel tov and Happy Anniversary to both my in-laws and my first born and his wife, who had chosen this most auspicious of days for their respective weddings.
Baruch Hashem I had woken up feeling well… ready, willing and able to make a potentially life-saving donation. My major concern was a logistical one: How was I going to get to the hall where the blood drive was taking place that evening?
My husband (and car) should ordinarily have returned in plenty of time, but being that this was Yom Yerushalayim and my husband was spending the day in the Holy City with his yeshivah, all bets were off. So I had to have a contingency plan in place.
First I contacted my one-time donating partner.
“I’m so sorry,” she responded, “I’m home sick with the flu, and can’t donate today!”
I wished her a refuah sheleima, and seamlessly moved on to Plan C. I sent a posting to our online email list requesting a ride from someone who was going to the drive anyway and had room for one. Hours later, I still had not received a single reply, so it was time for Plan D. I reluctantly placed a call to one of the drive organizers to ask if any of the volunteer drivers would be in my neighborhood and willing to give me a lift. For whatever reason, the woman was temporarily unavailable and missed my call. When she noticed my voicemail some time later, she phoned back immediately, with exciting news.
“One of the drivers is nearby right now, and will pick you up between 9:05 and 9:07!”
Very good tidings indeed. Except for the fact that I was then distributing freshly washed laundry while listening to the 9 PM News. I quickly donned a sheitel, grabbed my purse, and raced down the steps to meet my waiting chariot. As I left my apartment, however, I concluded that it was imperative for me to take my cell phone along, to notify my husband of my whereabouts. I climbed back up two flights of stairs to retrieve it but could not find it. I belatedly realized that I had already stashed it in my bag!
By the time I made it to the far corner of my block and down to the main street rendezvous point, the driver was already on the phone with our liaison to determine whether he was waiting in the correct spot. I apologized profusely, and climbed into the back seat, introducing myself to a lovely woman from Toronto who was already seated there. Sure enough, my cell phone rang just then, and I updated my husband regarding the latest developments. We picked up another woman en route, and soon arrived at our destination.
Because of the less-than-ideal timing, the blood drive was not as well attended as usual, but the silver lining was that the vetting process went much more smoothly and quickly. B”H I passed all the stages of the screening protocol, and was accepted.
My better half called again while I was waiting my turn to donate. He informed me that he had returned home with two of our sons, only to discover that a third son had taken his house key before leaving to yeshiva. Our younger daughter (along with her key) was spending the night in Yerushalayim. Bottom line: my husband and sons were locked out of the house. We made up that I would call as soon as I finished, and they would come pick me up. In the interim, the starving guys bought a few tubs of Ben & Jerry’s to tide them over.
It was only when we were approaching our humble abode that I too made a startling and most unwelcome discovery. Incredibly, my own house key was missing as well. I checked and double checked my purse, shaking out my ID card and donation card, and unceremoniously dumping the entire contents of my bag into my lap but still no key. So here it was, past 11 PM by now, and the four of us were hungry, tired, and keyless.
One son and I combed the entrance to our house and retraced my route to the car that had taken me to the drive some two hours earlier. No luck. My husband considered driving back and forth to Modiin to retrieve his key from our youngest son, but that would take a minimum of an-hour-and-a-half. Finally my harried hubby allowed one of our boys to attempt to break in to our house through an unlocked window. That son is slight in build, but powerful and athletic. Within moments, he had somehow squirmed his way inside and, triumphantly opened the front door for us.
Talk about mixed emotions! On the one hand, I was absolutely horrified that it took all of two minutes to break into my apartment. On the other, I was absolutely thrilled that our slim, wiry, and not to mention brave and agile, son had serendipitously returned home with my husband and was able to release us from our misery. Particularly because those four cups of water I had downed after donating were already having the expected effect. I subsequently made a number of phone calls to both the driver and liaison, but my eye-catching lavender key never did turn up.
Never mind. Somehow I suspect that the roller-coaster-ride of a red-white-and-blue Yom Yerushalayim we experienced this year will make it into our ever-expanding tome of family lore as one of the most memorable on record.