“We are not a polite people,” says Momo, “my heart speaks via my mouth.” Shlomo “Momo” Lipshitz is president of Oranim Birth-Right Israel, one of the authorized tour agencies that shows Israel to the young Jews brought to the Holy Land for free by Birthright. It is his self-proclaimed duty to “bring one million young Jews to Israel.” Why? “Jewish love. This trip is all about Jewish love,” says Momo, standing before us with his arms crossed behind his back, his belly jutting out underneath a blue collared shirt. “Israel is about love,” says Momo. “You have come to Israel and you will find love here.”
I find Momo’s word’s hard to believe because of how they come out of his mouth; he is not talking to us, but barking orders, “You will find love.” I imagine him not in a blue-collared shirt and blue jeans but instead in green Army fatigues, a maroon beret sideways on his bald head. We sit in a room with a low ceiling. Around me are other Americans. We are all jet-lagged and overwhelmed to be in a foreign country, in a foreign hotel, listening to a man with a strange accent lecture at us.
The Shabbat candles, left on a table from the service a half hour earlier, burn low. “If you walk on the beach, here in Tel Aviv, and you see a pretty girl (and Momo tells us this is inevitable; all Israeli girls are pretty) you do not have to ask if she is Jewish. If you find your love on this trip, Momo will personally give you a free honeymoon to Israel.” There is whispering and Momo tenses up. “I am talking! When Momo talks you do not talk! Why were you talking?” He singles out someone on the other side of the room. “But, I wasn’t—” “I may be deaf from my tank service, but I am not blind!”
After you left me
I let a dog smell at
My chest and my belly. It will fill its nose
And set out to find you.
I hope it will tear the
Testicles of your lover and bite off his penis
Or at least
Will bring me your stockings between his teeth.
- Yehuda Amichai – “A Dog after Love”