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Purim Patrol

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Author’s note: This was written four years ago about this time of year right before the holiday of Purim, which is celebrated this year on 14 -15 March. Purim celebrates the rescue of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire from the evil designs of Haman the Agagite, a man descended from King Agag, the King of Amalek.

Purim 5762,

It was the day before Purim around 1:30 in the afternoon, and I was relaxing, reading an issue of Time Magazine someone had popped into my mailbox. I was interrupted by the phone. It was Nurit, the commander of the local Mishmar Ezrahi, the volunteer Civil Patrol that helps the police and the IDF spot and stop terrorists. She said she needed me for a patrol at a community center in Gilo where there was a Purim carnival going on for the children in the neighborhood – right now.

So I stuffed a cheese sandwich into my mouth and walked down to the local sub-station a few hundred meters away. I signed for a rifle, a couple of clips of bullets and a blue Velcro vest with “Mishtéret Yisraél (Israel Police) and Mishmár Ezrahí (Civil Guard) in big letters on it. I also received my official I.D. as a member of the Mishmar Ezrahi, complete with photo and Teudat Zehut (national ID card) number imprinted. A few minutes later we all left.

There were four of us in the hatchback driving toward Gilo. Nurit, and a young guy whose name I forget, Claude and me. Nurit is a pretty young lady, young enough to be my daughter, who is the cop, the professional with the salary. The young guy who drove the hatchback is a draftee to the army, was also young enough to be my child. The way it has seemed to work in the past is that I was paired off with some retiree, at least twenty years older than me, who has been here longer than I. This time was no different.
Claude was born at least seventy five years ago in Algeria and fought in the British Army when the French were defeated in 1940. He speaks Hebrew with an unmistakable French accent and has several children and grandchildren here. He has lived in Israel for seven years.

When we arrived at the Gilo Community Centre, we were not the only Civil Guard members there. In addition to the other civil Guard members, there were also two military policemen armed with M16’s and several civilian cops. One of those policemen started to explain the assignment to us, assuming that we could both understand Hebrew. Fortunately, I did understand, because when he was done, I repeated his instructions back to him in English, speaking to him as quickly in my native tongue as he had done to me in his native tongue.

Essentially, we were to check the building to see that all possible routes of entry were locked except one, check the street for suspicious packages and people and wander around, and through our presence (with the unloaded M1’s that were as old as I am), reassure the locals that everything possible was being done to insure their safety and security. At all times Claude and I were to maintain eye contact, and in case of a problem, call some of the military policemen present on the radio. In the event that we were attacked with one of the Arabs’ newest toys, the Kassem 2 missiles, we were to herd the children into the basement of the building as quickly as humanly possible.

This particular patrol was particularly easy, and therefore boring. But I got to practice my Hebrew and show off the little French I know. I learned a lot about Claude who had visited this country during WWII as a British soldier. He was captured by the Germans twice, escaped twice, and subsequently lived in Tunisia, Algeria. When the French evacuated North Africa and gave their colonies their independence, he moved not far from Geneva before coming to Israel. I bought myself a hot dog roll and an espresso coffee and was able to take a break (no doughnuts and coffee at a local greasy spoon, though). A few times I heard gunshots from the Arab village of Beit Jallah, across the wadi, but none of them were close by. I spent a lot of time looking at the sky checking for “incoming”.

My biggest security problem on this patrol was a couple of young children who wanted to set off firecrackers nearby. Being the natural party-pooper that I am, I told the children not to set them off. When they moved some ten meters away and started to set them off anyway, I called over one of the cops and he took the firecrackers away from the children. In Israel, firecrackers are illegal but usually tolerated. In neighborhoods which are under regular Arab gunfire attacks, police don’t like them at all as they sound similar to bullets being fired and can scare the residents who are nervous anyway.

As I stood at the entrance of the Gilo Community Centre, I reflected on how I never thought that at age fifty-and-a-half, I’d be standing in a cold winter wind, patrolling a community centre with a rifle slung over my shoulder. It was kind of like the afternoon in May 1985 when I was mopping a floor in a Burger King in Bloomington, MN. I stopped for a moment then and reflected. I never thought then that I would be mopping a floor for a living after having earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration and having gone to law school for a year. When I was mopping the floor I was getting paid and I felt humiliated. This afternoon, I was getting nothing, but I felt elevated. Go figure.

The patrol itself ended at six in the evening. The four of us got into the hatchback and left, driving south along the Bethlehem Road (toward Bethlehem), a typical suburban boulevard such as is found in the States. Suddenly, the driver swung over to the left side of the road and stopped the car. He and Nurit jumped out of the car and confronted two young men who were walking north towards Jerusalem proper with backpacks on their shoulders. The two men took off their backpacks and put them on the sidewalk, while Nurit and the driver searched the backpacks thoroughly. Even though there appeared to be no signs of resistance on the part of the two young men and no signs of violent intimidation by Nurit and the driver (for example, neither young men were told to ‘assume the position’ or were pushed against the hatchback for a search), both Claude and I were ready with our rifles, ready to load and fire.

Nurit took their identity cards, examined them for a few moments, and put them in her jacket pocket. Then she and the driver re-entered the car and left the young men on the street. We drove south toward the border patrol posts between Arab controlled territory and Israeli controlled territory and the driver stopped the car at the guard post. Nurit opened the window and handed the ID’s she had scarfed from the two young men, said something quickly as to where she had found them and what the men looked like, then closed the window and we drove off, making a u-turn and returning up the highway.

Only then did I ask what had just transpired. I wanted to know how the young men were going to retrieve their identity cards. The driver answered that they knew where to go, and that they would be along shortly at the border post. He then went on to explain that each morning, several thousand Arabs from Bethlehem walk up the highway toward Jerusalem looking for work and pass through the checkpoint. So, in the morning, it is normal to see them coming up the Bethlehem Road walking toward Jerusalem, with backpacks or lunch pails. At six-fifteen in the evening, this is a not normal occurrence.

The Arabs in Judea and Samaria, the land conquered from Jordan in 1967, have one of two kinds of identification cards. One is an orange card issued by the IDF for those Arabs living in area “C” of Judea and Samaria, the sections controlled by Israel. The vast majority of them, however, have green cards issued by the “Palestinian Authority” which controls areas “A” and “B”. If they have additional documentation allowing them to work in Israel, they can enter Jerusalem. If not, they are turned back at the border. The two young men who had just been searched had the green cards, but no authorization papers. And as the driver had assured me, they were indeed walking toward the border post to retrieve their ID cards and return to Arab controlled territory.

So that was the end of the patrol the night before Purim. We got back to the sub-station, and returned our weapons and vests. The fellow with the hatchback drove home, Claude walked to his apartment on the other side of the valley from the absorption center, and I walked back to the absorption center to a Purim party. Nurit locked up the sub-station, got on her motorbike, and disappeared into the night.

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About Ruvy

Hi!! Thanks for coming to my article! I was raised in Brooklyn, was graduated from the City University of New York in 1978 with a BA in political science and public administration there. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years. There I managed restaurants and wrote stories. We moved with our children family to Israel where we now reside. My work can be found at Ruvy's Roost, Jewish Indy,, and on Facebook under my full name, Reuven Kossover
  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Two additional notes on Purim.


    The story of Purim is found in Megillát Esther, the Scroll of Esther. At Aish haTorah one can find a link to the events of listed in parts of the Scroll of Esther to events that occurred in the year 5707 during the Nürnberg Trials of Nazi officials after WWII. A hint to all of this is provided above – the Hebrew calendar is used, not the Christian one.


    The story of Purim deals with the rescue of Jews in exile – in this case, in Persia. Purim has marked similar rescues in exile. In 1953, Joseph Stalin was planning ther mass execution of Jews in the Soviet Union. The tip of the iceberg of all this, “a doctors’ plot” had already begun to surface.

    On Purim, 5713 – Purim, 1953, Stalin suffered a stroke – or was poisoned. Either way, he never regained control of the country and died. The doctor’s plot and plan to exterminate Jews in the Soviet Union died with him.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    When I went to Aish HaTorah I did not find the story I mentioned, so I copied it from here into this comment below:

    Esther 9:1 – 9:15 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Achashverosh to attack those seeking their destruction. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful. The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, The ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder. The number of those slain in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.” “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on gallows.” So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they hanged the ten sons of Haman.….

    In the above passage, an intriguing dialog takes place between Esther and Achashverosh. First Esther tells us that the ten sons of Haman, by name, have been killed on the first day of battle. On the second day of battle, in Shushan, she asks that the ten sons of Haman be hung on the gallows. If the ten sons are already dead, why bother to hang them? In verse 9:13, the sages made a comment on the word tomorrow:

    “There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later.”[25]

    In other words, Esther was asking for Haman’s sons to be hung now, and also to be hung later in history. Her request was obviously not something that Achashverosh could grant. Only HaShem (G-d) could keep such a promise.

    According to the Sages, every time King Achashverosh is mentioned by name, in the Book of Esther, it refers to Achashverosh. Every time the text merely says, “the King”, it refers to HaShem.

    So, in the above scripture, we can see that Esther is addressing her request, that Haman’s sons be hanged, to HaShem. In Esther 9:14, The King, HaShem, grants Esther her request:

    “And the King commanded it be done.”

    Since HaShem always fulfills His word, we should expect this prophecy to be fulfilled. 2300 years after Esther, we again encounter the sons of Amalek. The New York Times has the following headline:


    When Haman was leading Mordechai through Shushan on the King’s horse, Haman’s daughter emptied the chamber pot on the one who was leading the horse. She thought that Mordechai was leading the horse, while Haman was being honored. When she discovered her error, she committed suicide by throwing herself from the balcony, even as Goering committed suicide before he was to be hung.

    Nachmanides asserted that any change, from the normal, in a word or letter of the Tanakh, indicates some hidden meaning. If you examine the list of Haman’s ten sons in the Megillat Esther, you will notice that three letters are written smaller:

    1. the letter ת “Tav” in Parshanda”t”ah (is small),
    2. the letter ש “Shin” in Parma”sh”tah (is small),
    3. the letter ז “Zayin” in Vay”z”tah (is small), and
    4. the letter ו “Vav” in “V”ayzatah (is large).

    The Tav ת, the shin ש, and the zayin ז are written smaller. The vav is larger than the others. The three letters together form ז” שת, the number 707. The vav ו is a 6, as in the sixth century or 5707, which is 1946 c.e. This is the year that the ten Nazis were hung.

    One of the condemned men, Julius Streicher, shouted “Purimfest 1946″ as the trap door was sprung. Streicher obviously grasped some of the significance of this event.

    The hanging took place on October 16, 1947, which was Tishrei 21, 5707, it was Hoshana Rabba, which is the day when HaShem’s verdicts are sealed:

    Zohar Vayikra – 31b “…On the 7th day of the Succoth (Tabernacles) festival, the judgment of the nations of the world is finalized. Sentences are issued from the residence of the King. Judgments are aroused and executed on that day.”

  • MAOZ

    “Esther was asking for Haman’s son’s to be hung…”
    I think you mean she asked for them to be hanged. (Their girlfriends might have wanted them to be “hung”.)

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist the observation.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem


    Thank you.

    At least you read the comment… the point of which is that a story which does not talk about G-d at all contains a request for future vengeance on the enemies of the Jewish people – 2500 years in the future.