“Aethon Fires” at The Tel Aviv Review of Books

Haim Watzman

A very black comedy about a lost and troubled young soldier

“Someone’s knocking,” Yoram shouts from the kitchen, with his usual knack for stating the obvious. I don’t move. On principle, I don’t respond to Yoram, who has been squatting in my kitchen and raiding my refrigerator since Dani moved out three weeks ago. “You need a man around the house,” he keeps telling me. His puffy fingers, fat cheeks, and wispy hair are not what I would look for in a man if I wanted one, in the house or anywhere else.

Anyway, right now he’s decked out as a Greek hoplite warrior. Crested helmet, shin guards, and a breastplate outlining abs that—if he has any—are buried deep under layers of flab. … continue reading at The Tel Aviv Review of Books

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If you want to get to know Ami better, check out “Nobody Smiles ” (which we included with much success in the “Through Women’s Eyes” edition of the Necessary Stories Show a couple years ago), and “Odysseus Eats .”

Read previous Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel. A complete Necessary Stories archive , including those that appeared in The Jerusalem Report, can be found here on South Jerusalem.

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Necessary Stories, a collection of twenty-four of the best of Haim Watzman’s short fiction, is available as an e-book, paperback, and hardback on Amazon,

Read more“Aethon Fires” at The Tel Aviv Review of Books

Saul at Ein Dor — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

An IDF officer in crisis.

Illustration by Avi Katz
The three faded bars on each shoulder mark the long-limbed figure’s rank, but even without them I would know that he is a company commander in the reserves. Dark of hair and olive-skinned, he has the hard, determined gaze of a man who commands others. His uniform is faded with the desert dust of summer; there is a small rip in his shirt, on the left side, several centimeters below his armpit, but the shirt is tucked in. Holding his low-slung short M-16 to his waist, he stands aside as others board at the stop across from the Valley of the Cross … continue reading at The Times of Israel

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Read previous Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel. A complete Necessary Stories archive , including those that appeared in The Jerusalem Report, can be found here on South Jerusalem.

To receive an e-mail notification each time a new Necessary Story appears (about once every four weeks), sign up here

Necessary Stories, a collection of twenty-four of the best of Haim Watzman’s short fiction, is available as an e-book, paperback, and hardback on Amazon,

Read moreSaul at Ein Dor — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Mo’ed Bet — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Sex, power, and second chances—real and imagined.

illustration by Avi Katz
Reyna paused before the green gate and looked carefully to the left and to the right before entering the well-kept garden half-way up Masaryk Street. It was hard to shake the feeling that there was a film crew nearby and that she was an actress in the opening scene of a new television series. As a teenager, when she watched Srugim religiously, she had fantasized that she, too, was a fictional character in a witty and poignant serial drama set in the German Colony. As she walked from home to school or from school to Bnai Akiva, she’d imagine herself in the sequence that comes before the title of the episode. Then she’d turn a corner, open a door, or enter a yard. She had never been able to imagine what happened after that.… continue reading at The Times of Israel

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Read previous Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel. A complete Necessary Stories archive , including those that appeared in The Jerusalem Report, can be found here on South Jerusalem.

To receive an e-mail notification each time a new Necessary Story appears (about once every four weeks), sign up here

Necessary Stories, a collection of twenty-four of the best of Haim Watzman’s short fiction, is available as an e-book, paperback, and hardback on Amazon,

Read moreMo’ed Bet — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Words of Love — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

Language, love, and betrayal, in an update of an old story for the WhatsApp era

illustration by Avi Katz

I keep eyes to laptop as Ze’ev slaps me manfully on the shoulder and places his cardboard coffee cup next to mine. I don’t feel like talking, and even if I did, I wouldn’t choose Ze’ev, whose favorite exercise is gaining a foothold in the affairs of others. It was a mistake to expose myself here, in the little café just outside the gym at the Jerusalem International YMCA Sports Center, at a small table right next to the large window overlooking the pool. Out of the corner of my eye I glance at the Jacuzzi a floor below, and wince when I see Veronica seated on the edge, holding Khaled’s hand, saying nothing … continue reading at The Times of Israel

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To receive an e-mail notification each time a new Necessary Story appears (about once every four weeks), sign up here

Necessary Stories, a collection of twenty-four of the best of Haim Watzman’s short fiction, is available as an e-book, paperback, and hardback on Amazon,

Read moreWords of Love — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Black Hole — “Necessary Stories” from The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

illustration by Avi Katz
Time ends when a child dies, as it does in the dark heart of a galaxy. The eternal moment, when I dropped Niot off at the bus stop at Fureidis Junction, and he opened the car door to receive a farewell assurance, ask a last question, when I touched him whole for the final time.

No child knows it until he himself becomes a father or a mother. No child really grasps that he weighs billions of solar masses … continue reading at The Times of Israel

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To receive an e-mail notification each time a new Necessary Story appears (about once every four weeks), sign up here

Necessary Stories, a collection of twenty-four of the best of Haim Watzman’s short fiction, is available as an e-book, paperback, and hardback on Amazon,

Read moreBlack Hole — “Necessary Stories” from The Times of Israel

Unheeled, with the General in the Shuk — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

illustration by Avi Katz
I have no time. I limp across Agrippas Street, right foot landing lower than the left, high heel in hand, looking for the last lonely cobbler in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market, to whom I had been directed by the leering cucumber hawker I left The General with. A cab, horn blaring, tries to swerve around me just as I get to the other side, nearly colliding with a groaning bus wending its way in the opposite direction down the sluggish street. Shiloh, that’s the name of the alley where the cobbler plies his obsolescent trade.

Continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreUnheeled, with the General in the Shuk — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

The Deceiver — Necessary Stories at The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

After Kiddushin 58b–59a

illustration by Avi Katz


Yehoshua decided that on the first of Shevat he would stop believing in God. That would give him two weeks to get his life in order.

Getting his life in order meant, first, breaking the news to Kinneret that their marriage was over. Yehoshua was fairly certain that she did not yet know this. Second, it meant a difficult conversation with Rav Moshe Franck in which he would argue that he should continue to be allowed teach Gemara to the girls at the midrasha as long has he kept his private beliefs to himself. Third, it meant telling Tani, his ardent suitor, that he should direct his attentions elsewhere.

Continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreThe Deceiver — Necessary Stories at The Times of Israel

LA Times Op-Ed–In Israel, a cartoonist was fired for a political offense. I quit my job in protest

Haim Watzman I have never met Avi Katz, the illustrator and editorial cartoonist fired by the Jerusalem Report in late July for a politically controversial drawing. In fact, I’ve never even spoken to Katz on the phone. Yet we have the intimate relationship that grows out of artistic partnership. For more than 10 years, once … Read moreLA Times Op-Ed–In Israel, a cartoonist was fired for a political offense. I quit my job in protest

Witch’s Broom — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

illustration by Avi Katz
Hey, I need a smoke after that, let’s stand here in the shade of this tree, yeah, this olive tree, you always had to say exactly what tree we were sitting under between exercises, but then you’re from a moshav, for us in the city all that’s important is shade on a sweltering day like this. It’s a beautiful tree, though, fine specimen, olive trees are my favorite, they’ve got strong roots, they’re rugged. Let’s stand under that round thing up there, exactly covers the sun, looks like the tree has sprouted a green basketball. I love trees with those things. They’re like a flare that suddenly appears in the sky and guides you through the night. Witch’s broom? Really? That’s what it’s called? Doesn’t look like a broom at all.

It’s a shame about Ilan. Salt of the earth. A warrior like from the old days. And they sucked his blood, sucked his blood, I tell you, until he didn’t have any left. Did you see Kochava, that’s class, no screaming or wailing like in my family, strong and silent, with the kids standing by her, and grandkids, dignity, I tell you, dignity, that’s what we used to have here in Israel and don’t any more.

Charge! I keep hearing him call out, Forward, charge! And we’d run up the mountain and shooting at those targets as if filling them with holes was going to save the Jewish people. There was something in his voice that made running up a steep slope on a freezing winter morning and plopping yourself on a bunch of thorns the thing you wanted to do more than anything else in the world. And it wasn’t just play. Remember, in Marjayoun, or was it Hasbayiyya, in Lebanon, I don’t even remember anymore, when he saved the entire platoon by spotting the mortar swiveling our way on that bastard Shiite’s roof? And with a single command he got us under cover and firing like maniacs until we took it out. He was a hero, in the pure sense of the word, the greatest hero I ever knew. And they sucked his blood, sucked his blood. Did you see Kochava? She’s at least fifty but she could pass for thirty-five any day, dark and slender, I’d say sexy but it would sound wrong, you’re not allowed to say stuff like that these days. My heart goes out to her. She doesn’t deserve it. The kid’s don’t. Ilan certainly didn’t deserve it, should have been put on a pedestal, given the Israel Prize.

Read moreWitch’s Broom — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

The Third Child — Dvar Torah for Pesach in memory of Niot Watzman z”l

Haim Watzman

In memory of my younger son, Niot, seven years after his death at the age of 20, during Pesach. From the Pesach 2018 issue of Shabbat Shalom, the weekly Torah portion sheet of the religious peace movement, Oz Veshalom.

להורדת הגליון של “שבת שלום בעברית”

“Take, for example, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony,” says Lahav Shani, the twenty-nine-year-old conductor who was recently chosen to lead the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. “It may well be the work that the orchestra has played more times than any other. The musicians can perform it in their sleep. But, precisely when you play something so much, there are things that become routine, and I saw in the music the possibilities of a different balance and a somewhat different point of view” (Ha’aretz, Galeria Shishi, Feb. 16, 2018).

The same can be said for the Pesach Haggadah. Many of us could practically recite it in our sleep. That’s why we need a young “Lahav Shani” on Seder night to freshen up the all-too-familiar material that the traditional Haggadah provides.

Read moreThe Third Child — Dvar Torah for Pesach in memory of Niot Watzman z”l

Transfigured Night — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

Two sit in a café. The cold penetrates the windowpane. Their gaze is not on each other but on the moon, shining through the eucalyptus leaves in a cloudless sky. The woman speaks.

illustration by Avi Katz
Because you followed me in the wilderness, she says, in a land unsown. They are both trying to be polite, to the point. Their oldest son’s wedding is next month.

The man wears a uniform, with a colonel’s insignia. Why don’t you stop fondling your gun, she suggests. He had not realized that his left hand had wandered there, and quickly removes it.

He clears his throat. There must be some sort of protocol for this. We can’t be the first. The hand that had been on the gun is now on his head, playing with the clip on his kipah. He brings it down, carefully intertwining its fingers with those of its counterpart, keeping both under control.

The woman shrugs. It’s not up to us. It’s what Eliav wants. And Sivan.

He lets out a long breath, very slowly, focusing on control of his breathing.

Let me put it to you straight, he says. Eliav hates me. The two of us are divorced. Now he’s located his father and invited him. Do you really want me to come?

She sips her cappuccino. The left side of her mouth goes up. He doesn’t know if it’s a smile or an attempt to hold a tear back.

Read moreTransfigured Night — “Necessary Stories” from The Jerusalem Report