Tablet Magazine
Israel Story

Going, Going, Gone

In our season finale, we tell four short stories of things that, like our current season, are coming to an end—from a toddler parting with a ‘special friend’ to a couple seeing their life’s work go up in flames, and from a stubborn holdout in a dying industry to an unusually long marriage

January 19, 2022
Tablet Magazine

This is our final episode of the season, and it has been quite a journey. We began with our day at the Y, and have since explored all kinds of hidden corners of Israeli society. We’ve delved into the worlds of Israeli pork and kosher Korean kimchi. We’ve excavated a 2,000-year-old mikvah in Hanaton and nearly touched the surface of the moon with a blue-and-white rover. We’ve visited Shirley the turkey on the Freedom Farm in Olesh, entered chicken coops in Umm el-Fahm, and searched for wild boars in Haifa. We’ve followed a season of women’s volleyball in Nazareth and the unlikely process of regrowing a foreskin. We’ve recorded at shatnez labs in Bnei Brak and date farms outside of Jericho and—in our most recent episode—we told the heartbreaking tale of the 2001 suicide bombing at Sbarro.

Today this sixth storytelling journey of ours comes to an end. There will, of course, be more in the future, but as we wrap up this season, we explore the concept of endings, from a bunch of surprising different angles.

Prologue: “Going Once.” Every few years, when its warehouses of unclaimed lost-and-found items fill up, the Israeli police pretends to be Sotheby’s for a day. Producer Adina Karpuj attended an unusual auction, but didn’t come home with any of the hundreds of “kosher” cellphones, shtreimels, batteryless electric bikes, or industrial ovens (!) that were up for grabs.

Act I: “Baby Steps.” No matter who we are, where we live, or what religion we practice, there is a series of ceremonies and rituals that accompany us from birth to death (and, in some cases, beyond). Many of these rites of passage are a source of much joy and anticipation, but some—such as the one producer Tanya Huyard observed at Jerusalem’s “pacifier tree”—elicit more ambivalent feelings.

Act II: “Fire and Ice.” On the afternoon of Aug. 15, 2021, the hills of Jerusalem were covered in smoke. It was, it would turn out after the fire was quelled five days later, one of Israel’s most devastating wildfires in recent history. Roughly 14,000 dunams of forest had turned to ash, and so, too, had the wooden harp workshop of Micha and Shoshanna Harrari in Ramat Raziel. A month after the blaze, producer Elie Bleier went to meet them, and heard how this hippie couple plans to cope with the loss of their past, their livelihood, and their future.

Act III: “Candid Camera.” At the very end of Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, right before the city spills into the Mediterranean Sea, there’s a hole-in-the-wall store called Photo Doron. It barely has a sign out front, has no credit card machine and no flashy website. It is a repair shop for film cameras—one of the last of its kind, like a fossil of a different era. Producer Skyler Inman stepped in and discovered why—though his profession is closer to appearing in history books than in newspaper headlines—79-year-old Ya’akov Barzilai isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon.

Act IV: “Till Death Do Us Part.” Shlomo and Sarah Adani were married for longer than most people are alive. They grew up together in the small village of Dalah in Yemen, and were practically inseparable for more than eight decades. Renana Adani, their granddaughter, told producer Yoshi Fields about a partnership that began before the invention of color TV, atomic energy, and super glue, and ended in Jerusalem within a span of 48 hours.

Zev Levi scored and sound-designed the episode with music from Blue Dot Sessions, Shoshanna Harrari, and Tamar Attias. Sela Waisblum created the mix. Thanks to Tomer Nissim, Aviv Weiss, Ehud “Oudoul” Cappon, Sheila Lambert, Erica Frederick, Jeff Feig, and Joy Levitt. A special thanks to Dina Rabhan.

This is Israel Story’s final episode with Tablet magazine. We will be announcing our new home in the upcoming months. But this is a time to say thank you to Tablet, which has been our home since 2014. Tablet believed in Israel Story when it was just an idea on paper, and together we have not only produced six full seasons but have also grown to become the most-listened-to Jewish podcast in the world. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of the Tablet family, and to have had such an incredible model of first-rate journalism. Thanks to Morton Landowne, Alana Newhouse, Wayne Hoffman, Julie Subrin, Sara Ivry, Elissa Goldstein, Esther Werdiger, Kurt Hoffman, Stephanie Butnick, Mark Oppenheimer, Gabe Sanders, and Josh Kross. We will miss you very much.

The end song, “Yachol Lihiyot She’Ze Nigmar” (“It Might Be Over”), was written by Yehonatan Geffen, composed by Shem Tov Levi and sung by Arik Einstein.

Listen to the episode here, or download it from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify. You can hear all of Israel Story’s episodes in English here and in Hebrew here.

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