Masks — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

A Purim story, about men and masks.

illustration by Avi Katz
Rivka Street ascends so steeply from the traffic light by the Hadar Mall that I often stop to rest halfway up, and to reprimand myself for not getting more exercise. Today I’m puffing all the more because the Pulcinella mask that my daughter insisted I wear for Purim is pressing on my nose.

There’s a little tree I like to stop at because it blocks the view of the open garbage bins on the other side. This Tuesday morning my spot is occupied. It’s a young woman with a two-wheeled shopping cart… continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreMasks — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

On the Fast Train — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

A woman finds friendship, but not her own, on the fast train to Jerusalem.

illustration by Avi Katz

The two young men glance at me in concert but immediately turn back to their conversation. I position my overstuffed shopping cart in front of my knees, and arrange my skirt neatly, so that no one can complain that I am blocking the place next to me. I’m facing the other side of the fast train to Jerusalem, which means I’m looking directly at the two young men. They have the seats on the other side, which face each other over a small table… continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreOn the Fast Train — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Heavens — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

Love, heartbreak and the night sky: a team of IDF reservists addresses romantic crisis in the West Bank.

illustration by Avi Katz
The girl’s fluent Hebrew did not, Nuriel thought, fit her long sleeves and head scarf. A cold October breeze ruffled her loose-fitting blouse, buttoned up to the neck and reaching down below her hips. Clearly it could not conceal a suicide belt. But when had anyone ever heard of a young woman—clearly from a devout family—in a town in the fundamentalist Muslim region of the Hebron highlands boldly approaching two armed Israeli soldiers? Her very presence in the company of a couple of hormone-soused guys who had not seen their wives for a couple weeks already could, if discovered, fatally compromise her. He meant “fatally” in a most literal way … continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreHeavens — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

A Prayer for Bibi — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

Haim Watzman

About words and devotion and rules and strangers.

The women’s section was half empty, but the stranger, who stopped several times while walking up the aisle, chose the front row. Not just the front row, but one chair away from where Michal stood, trying to concentrate on the Amidah. Michal was, as always, intense in her devotions, but also, as usual, feeling that the words weren’t getting through, neither to He to whom they were addressed, nor to herself.

She instinctively placed a protective arm over the baby in her womb and evaluated the newcomer out of the corner of her eye … continue reading at The Times of Israel

Read moreA Prayer for Bibi — Necessary Stories in The Times of Israel

“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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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.

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 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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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

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