Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Curious Case of Asher Nesher

November 4, 2012 1:42 pm 0 comments

Bus that belongs to the Israel Prison Service in the Merkavim bus assembly plant in Caesarea, Israel. Photo: ynhockney.

I first met him in a crowded, balmy northern Jerusalem pizza parlor called “Borough Park”. He, Asher Nesher, was working behind the counter, gracefully fielding all incoming orders from the virtually exclusively Haredi clientele. Over a sea of black hats, through a jungle of beards and accompanied by a cacophony of Yiddish-tinged Hebrew, I elbowed my way through. After all, while these good people of the Book rhythmically debated the virtues of mushroom versus onion toppings, I had to hustle on back to the Jerusalem Post building, to resume and complete the night shift as a fast typing monkey, paid monthly in peanuts and promises.

We bonded over baseball. Wearing my “Think Blue” Dodgers t-shirt one bright, clear spring day turned out to be the precise brand of social lubricant that set Asher’s tongue in motion. Not that he knew a thing about the Dodgers specifically or baseball generally.

The lure of America’s past time for Asher was of a practical rather than mystical nature. Centrally located in the bohemian fringe neighborhood of Musrara, Asher lived but a few feet from the Yoel Salamon strip of bars in downtown Jerusalem. The Lion’s Den was a watering hole in the area that was known for its multiple flat screens that broadcasted many American football, basketball and baseball games. The Lion’s Den was also known for its tanned, toned and generally luscious clientele.

So, with the hopes of talking up a sweet-smelling UCLA coed on summer vacation who happened to bleed blue, Asher committed himself to learning everything about the Los Angeles Dodgers: history, stats, active roster, 40-man roster, depth chart, coaches, prospects, draft reports and more. As Asher’s guide through Dodger Stadium, Sandy Koufax and Shawn Green, I proved invaluable in helping him wake up one early Saturday morning next to a tanned, toned and generally dazed second year Gender Studies student from Westwood, California.

Having aided and abetted a summer fling, our friendship was thus solidified. Asher and I next developed a Thursday night ritual, whereby we would hit a different pub each week. It was at Dublin’s that I learned that Asher was a self-proclaimed militant pedestrian who dreamt of a world where all streets were safely and comfortably navigable on foot.  And it was at the refreshingly lo-tech Taklit, located right next to the Russian Compound, that Asher waxed political, asserting that the Knesset may as well lower Israel’s national flag and hoist up Sicily’s in its place. “The cancer of uncontrolled corruption is poisoning the marrow of Israeli society,” Asher would reflect. “Black cholera on all of them!” he’d bellow whenever anger trumped resignation.

And so it went.  Working in a Soviet era mental institution left me emotionally and financially depleted. As such, I resigned my post from the Jerusalem Post and hitched my star to a rather shady Givat Shaul-based cell phone company. Located on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, Givat Shaul is best known for its cemetery, low-cost wedding halls and proximity to a psychiatric hospital. With funds for my Israeli expedition having dipped to alarming levels, I accepted with good natured resignation the position of human punching bag for perpetually outraged American parents.

Besides, my fellow inmates were a motley crew, comprised of an immigrant from Moldavia, a computer science student from Ma’ale Adumim, a recently religious former Calgarian residing in nearby Har Nof and a surly Melbourne transplant who kept us in stitches with his under-the-breath obscenity-laden diatribes about socialists, Arabs and vegans.

Asher Nesher completely dropped of my radar screen during these days of box wine and Bissli. Relegated to “Jerusalem acquaintance – Musrara“ in the files of my life’s rolodex, it wasn’t until I was knee deep in the big muddy of my current job that I chanced upon Asher, on Highway 1 that connects Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. Having landed a gig that both covered the rent on my Mitudela Street apartment and left me with a bit to spare allowed me the luxury of exhaling – for the first time in months.

However, this era of good feeling was temporarily dampened when those damned San Francisco Giants won the World Series – for the second time in three years. Happy thoughts of a Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2013 resurgence were just beginning to turn my grey matter blue, when an incessant honking snapped me out of the light stupor I had drifted into while gazing blindly out the window of the Egged 947 bus – my daily mode of transportation to and from work.

An Israel Prison Service vehicle, packed tight with society’s dregs, had pulled even with our bus and was moving at an acceptable clip – yet the driver continued to slash Sunday morning into bits with his blaring horn. Aroused into curiosity, I craned my neck the necessary smidge required to get a clear look at the unhinged driver.

It was Asher Nesher, the militant pedestrian. I was shocked into coherence by the site of a familiar face in a totally foreign setting. Asher weighed in with his support for the cause of a Dodger revival. As I leaned out the window, he yelled: “Giants suck! Go Blue!”

And off he sped, laughing out loud while hauling Israel’s leading carcinogens – tax evaders, money launderers, thieves, rapists and God knows who else – to their final dumping ground.

Smiling as if just lobotomized that morning, I couldn’t help but revel in Asher’s about-face, from bar hopping, skirt chasing pizza guy to a most respectable career in law enforcement.

I vowed there and then to focus long and hard, wherever it took me, on realizing my life’s greatest ambition: to develop an ambition.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →