The bride, Dalit Lurie, was young and very pretty. I’d met her a few times when she traveled to the States and our main bond, aside from a distant blood relationship, was our love of dogs.
Dalit’s family was not religious, although you’d never have known it from the length of the ceremony or the way some of the guests were dressed. Men with side curls, tzit tzit, big black hats. Women in gorgeous headscarves and turbans that made them resemble Nubian queens. I truly felt as if I was in a different world (and I was).
The wedding was held at the Mamilla Hotel on a Sunday afternoon, and for me the most interesting aspect, aside from the rooftop views and being in such an exotic place as Israel, was meeting an elderly man named Gideon Loew who was seated by himself, smoking a cigarette and blowing elegant round puffs over the terrace railing. Once I saw him, I had to speak to him.
I held out my hand and introduced myself. Gideon looked at me blankly, then shook hands, told me who he was, and announced that I was the spitting image of my mother whom he’d met several times in the 50s and 60s when she’d accompanied my father on business trips to Israel. (It’s true: during that period of time my father’s main business had been in Israel.) “Your mother and I used to get drunk together,” he said, patting the seat beside him. I noticed the large glass of whiskey on the table and sat down. I’d never thought of my mother as a big drinker, though she liked her cocktails. She also liked playing pranks and Gideon crushed out his cigarette and lit another one as he launched into a story I’d heard before: my mother, Franyo, folding a piece of paper into an airplane during a business meeting and shooting it at the forehead of then prime minister, David Ben Gurion.
“I very much liked your mother because she was so unconventional,” Gideon said, studying my face. “I think you take after her.”
“Well, I’m a painter,” I offered. Then, on a whim, I said: “You seem to have an excellent memory. Did you ever hear of someone named Daniel Gottlieb who moved here from Romania sometime around the first world war?”
Gideon gave an abrupt laugh. “Sure I did. I had the unfortunate pleasure of doing business with his son-in-law, Jonathan Coreff, talk about a schmuck.”