I met Denise and her husband, Michael, at Rothschild 12, a groovy café on the most pleasant street in the city. I grew up with Denise, she was in the year above me at school, I was friends with her brother, Stephen. Our fathers, both survivors of concentration camps, were great friends. Denise is my lawyer in London, not that I ever need one, other than for writing my will. They have a holiday home in Herzlia, just north of Tel Aviv, and come here four or five times a year. She, somehow, looks no different to the way she looked forty years ago.
On the bus to meet them an elderly man is shouting. A woman moves away from him and sits next to me. She tells me he had been complaining that he was seventy-five and still had to work, but European Jews, the Ashkenazi, had all the money and could retire. Then, shockingly, he said how he wished Hitler had finished the job he’d started on them. The woman said that she knows the man is ill, but even so…
We arrive at my stop and I walk to the café.
I enjoy my late breakfast with them. I don't, yet, talk to enough people, and my stories, about banks, bureaucracy, and so on, tumble out like clowns at a circus.
Whenever we see each other our conversation always turns, sooner or later, to our fathers and their experiences in the war, but we always stop short of imagining the worst that they saw, that they underwent. What child can bear to think of the terrors their parents have known? We move on to other subjects; her children, restaurants, the things everyone talks about. It is easier, I promise you.
Today's word: muh-chuh-neh mohvet – concentration camp – מחנה מוות
The literal translation is the less euphemistic death camp, which is better, I think.