Some Jewish humor…
Jews don’t go to the gym to lift weights, they take a non-Jew with them to do the lifting!
If Tarzan and Jane were Jewish, what would Cheetah be? A fur coat.
Israel is the only country in the world where the ultra-orthodox Jews beat up the police and not the other way round!
Why don’t Jewish mothers drink? It interferes with their suffering!
Rim shot. Please, hold your applause.
The point is, Jews tend to take a unique view of things. So you can imagine, as we walked into that first chicken coop and found ourselves surrounded by what appeared to be about ten thousand chickens, all looking at us with panic in their eyes, that we looked back with even more panic and dread than any chicken could ever muster. Andrew and I assumed we were there to collect eggs. We were very wrong. Suddenly, our boss, Moshe, blurted, “I will show you how to pick them up, Ezri will then show you how to box them!”
Box them? What the fuck? Before we knew it, Moshe was knee-deep in screaming hens, all trying to escape the Reaper Himself! Fearless Mosh, as we would call him, was braving feathers, chicken shit and rampaging beaks, all out to get him and all seemingly without a chance. His technique was simple, relentless and effective: picking each chicken up by its legs from the underbelly, he turned them upside down as they pecked violently at his hands and eventually carried at least three in each hand to a crate. There Ezri then took over by quickly binding their legs together with a plastic tagging system and then throwing them unceremoniously into a wooden box, where they would eventually be taken to the slaughterhouse. Clearly, 20 years of experience, no matter what trade you are involved in, counts for something.
Andrew mastered Mosh’s technique within moments. I, on the other hand, had no wish to even think about being involved in this “cull.” The process may have been described by our hosts as “efficient and humane,” but in reality we faced seven hours of bringing death to thousands of our fellow creatures. I stood there, silent and contemplative, for more than just a few seconds, wondering, “Is this why I came to Israel, to kill chickens?” I never kill anything, not even flies. Killing chickens was far down on the list of things I wanted to do during my time in the Holy Land, right below “Step on a land mine.”
Overcoming (at least for the time being) my instinct to run, I shouted, “Excuse me!” again and again, but no one seemed to be listening. I whispered to Andrew, “I’m out of here”, only for him to shout back, “No you’re not!” But I was. I had no intention of staying inside this concentration camp for chickens, whilst the great outdoors of Israel stood but a few yards away, pleading for my participation in its well-being and upkeep! So I did what any honorable sixteen-year-old would do in such a situation. I lied my arse off.
“I can’t do this,” I said, standing with a very straight face in front of Moshe.
“Because I have an allergic reaction to animals of any kind, especially when I have to touch them.”
He looked at me with a slight smile and said, “What happens to you?”
“Eh…I vomit and I go red all over with a rash.” I was smiling now. “It’s hard to stomach and it will put me out of action for weeks.” It sounded so good even I believed it. Moshe, however, was skeptical.
“Can you try?” he asked.
“Why would I want to?”
“OK, then why didn’t you say something to Shimon, the works manager, when he directed you to come here?” This was a very good question, and now, with all the others watching this little tete-a-tete closely, I summoned up one more lie. “I had no idea I was coming here. I thought he said KITCHENS, not chickens.”
No doubt because there was so much work to do, Moshe decided to throw in the towel. “Report back to Shimon and he will find you something else to do,” he said. “You need to wait until he gets into his office at seven.” It was only 4:30 a.m., so I had two-and-a-half hours to figure out more lies that would keep me from being sent to the cows, the chickens or the fucking fish.
The sun’s gentle orange glow was about to lift the curtain on another day of sweltering red-hot madness as I walked my walk of shame away from feathers and death. Boxing up those chickens was necessary, but it was horrible and it just wasn’t for me. Relief with a capital R washed over me with every step. Two and a half hours? Heck, I would sit outside Shimon’s office for two and a half years if it meant I didn’t have to go back to Death Row! As color slowly but surely returned to my cheeks, my eyes focused on a lovely pair of legs approaching in the semi-darkness.
“Whatcha doin’, Scotsman?”
It was Sally, full of all the joys that dawn might bring.
“Looking for a job! Where you going?”
“Work of course,” she said, “and I’m early. Want to go for breakfast?”
“I ate at 3:30, went to kill chickens and chickened out. I am now the black sheep of this place, and off to see Shimon to find suitable work.”
“Why’d you crap out?” she asked.
“I’m not into killing animals—or people for that matter—and this was a massacre.”
“Are you a vegetarian?”
“Maybe?” At sixteen, I thought a Buddhist was a bald man living in a monastery in Tibet, so after a quick second thought, I realized that “maybe” was not the best answer. My face went red.
“Don’t be embarrassed, let’s see what we can get you to do where you’ll feel comfortable,” Sally said. “I know Shimon and his wife, because I watch their kids in the day school. He’s a great guy and he’ll sort you out.”
“Yes? Good! But I was told he’s not available for another two hours.”
“Let’s go to his house, and if he’s not there, we can go to the dining room and keep on searching until we find him.” As she said this, she grabbed my hand and whisked me away to the sound of my heart skipping several nice little beats.