On Monday I took my two eldest grand kids, five and seven, to see a Hebrew production of The Wizard of Oz at the Abba Hushi Auditorium in Haifa, because I wanted to introduce my Israeli grand kids to the beloved melodies of my American youth. Any resemblance to the 1939 MGM movie was coincidental. The only authentic melody in this Haifa version was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” All the other songs sounded like Hebrew entries to the Eurovision Song Contest for Children, circa 1980.
I kept my disappointment to myself because the grand kids didn’t know better and were enjoying the show. At least there were no pyrotechnics, typical in many Israeli children’s shows. The set and the costumes were simple and colorful. The basics were there – a storm, a lost girl wanting to find home, two witches, a brick road, three friends, red shoes and a wizard. This production was The Wizard of Oz for beginners. Indeed, the average age was three.
The wizard was played by a man with a paunch (too many kubeh) wearing a red and black dress. Also playing the role of the bad witch, he preferred to make the children laugh rather than shiver in their seats. The many wizards I’ve consulted during my forty-seven years in Israel usually made me cry. The first was a Yekke. He was a psychiatrist and an analyst, or so I thought. Later I learned that he had dropped out of the analytic training at the Israeli Institute of Psychoanalysis. This did not prevent him, though, from using his couch, where I lay many afternoons. He was not your typical psychiatrist-analyst. Once during a session he called his wife in their apartment upstairs and asked her how to make brisket in a pressure cooker. (The man who would become my husband was coming for dinner that night.) From that time on, I suspected this wizard was getting a kickback from The Jewish Agency or the Ministry of Immigration. Many of his clients were new immigrants like me, lost, and looking for the way home.
My next wizard was a female social worker, religious, the mother and grandmother of thousands. I figured she could give me advice for mothering only three. Her best piece of advice was to have me write about my own nuclear family. From there it was a short move to a movement wizard. In her home I spent two years of ecstasy crawling around a living room with wall to wall carpet. It was in that safe room with cushions and scarves that I gave birth to myself.
For the next decade I chose a man who got into wizardry from the field of translation. That was an excellent preparation, I figured, and enjoyed another four years of interpretations and tears. When I learned that he also served as the psychologist for Jerusalem’s basketball team, my love for him increased ten thousandfold. But alas, he left the Holy City for the Emerald City of Ra’anana.
After participating in a psychodrama class for a year, I decided I wanted the teacher all to myself. I signed up for private wizardry. Since her English was not good, I agreed to speak in Hebrew. For fifty minutes a week I poured my heart out in Hebrew. No matter what the content, I always felt good afterwards because I was speaking the holy tongue, surely the tongue of the one and only original Wizard.
Today the only wizard I consult on a regular basis uses Shiatsu. Original tzurris begins in the body and this is the arena where, with the help of gentle hands that press here and push there, that tzurris will be relieved. When my new wizard combines Shiatsu with So Juk and Moxa, I know I have finally come home.
After the production in Haifa my grand kids and I got into a cab. All the way home the driver spoke about fishing for buri (flathead mullet) at Bat Galim. He was daft and confused, not unlike the original wizard of Oz. I wasn’t worried, though, because finally, I was wearing my red shoes.