Observing a Sign

Publised in Ynet’s travel section

On Jerusalem’s Rechov Ussishkin, close to the corner of Rechov Keren Kayemet, hangs a sign on the brick wall adjacent to the sidewalk. The blue sign with white letters, written in both Hebrew and English, tells the tragic story of one Alexander Rubowitz. It was at this site on May 6, 1947, that the 16 year old Rubowitz was abducted by the British police while putting up posters for the pre-state Lehi organization. Once in British captivity he was tortured and killed, his body never to be found.

Standing next to the sign one chilly afternoon with the normal ebb and flow of daytime traffic and pedestrians, I decided to play the part of investigative journalist. With paper and pen in hand for added effect, I randomly stopped people as they passed by.

“Excuse me are you familiar with this sign? Do you know the story?” Not surprisingly, outside of one or two old-timers most people had never even noticed the sign let alone know the story behind it. At my urging a few people stopped to read the sign and a young woman even took a picture. Only one couple quickly skirted away from me, certain that I was trying to sell them something.

The sad thing is that this sign, like most of the several million that are scattered around the planet, shares a similar fate. First there is the emotional dedication ceremony in the presence of friends, family and dignitaries, then the eventual metamorphosis into nothing more than a piece of metal hanging on a wall. Time goes on and the heroic deeds, tragic suffering and numerous contributions of those that came before us, many of which enable us to live the lives we live, are usually forgotten as if they never happened. Something is not fair.

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