Editor’s note: This article is satire. The Forward does not condone axe murder or defamation of Jewish prophets.
April 5, 1999 – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tonight is the first night of Passover. Another year has gone by. Once again, the house smells like rotten eggs and roasted bones. Only now, I am no longer naive. Now, my eyes are open.
Why is tonight different than all other nights? Because tonight my parents will force me to open the door for the prophet Elijah.
10:22 a.m. “Elijah.” You’re a literal vagrant who cos-plays as all kinds of people. Like we should believe you’re going to announce the Messiah? You’re a lush, Elijah, and we all talk about it.
10:55 a.m. in school they teach us that we shouldn’t talk to strangers. “Stranger danger,” they say. But for Jews there’s always an asterisk: “Never talk to strangers… unless it’s Passover, after midnight — the seder ran late — because he could be the Prophet Elijah, a mythical demigod figure, in which case you should welcome him into your house. Yes, you - the 10 year old who we made answer the door. Why not? It’s not as if kidnapping is a thing!”
11:34 a.m. This is is simply too much stress. Every year, my heart races as I yank open that door as fast as I possibly can. Mom won’t even let me look through the peephole: “There were no peepholes in the Bible.” What does that even mean?
Tomorrow, at shul: “Did you hear? Elijah came to the Belskys’ house. Well, it wasn’t so much ‘Elijah’ as it was an escaped convict who walked in through the front door, which had been left open for 20 minutes early Friday morning. Oh, Marcia? The one they made answer the door? Yeah, she’s dead. No, actually, everyone else survived. I know, poor Marcia.”
No. This year is different. This year, I will be brave.
12 p.m. Update: I am sobbing. Allen, who was only four when I selflessly and courageously came to relieve of him of being the youngest Belsky, says I am doing it for attention. He’s not wrong. I’ve begged my Mother to make somebody else open the door. Please, woman - for the love of G-d! I have so much to live for. They’ve just opened something called a Jamba Juice at the mall. Next week is science fair. What a waste if I die.
12:34 p.m. Mom has told me if I keep playing “Bop-it” in anger she’s going to take it away. I am a political prisoner.
1:05 p.m. If this is the year the Messiah comes, I’ll honestly be pissed. I’m supposed to spend the night at Leanne’s house this weekend. We’ve had it planned for weeks.
I’m on the phone with her now explaining the situation. She asked if the Messiah comes back, will it be Jesus? I told her, “Maybe?” I don’t think so — I think we have a different one. Maybe ours is a woman. The details are hazy.
1:45 p.m WONDER OF WONDER. MIRACLE OF MIRACLES. Mom’s friend Susan is bringing her 5 year old daughter, Becca. Sorry, Becca. I hate to see you go so young, but you will die a martyr.
2:18 p.m. Becca is “sick.”
She has made a powerful enemy. I will not forget this.
2:44 p.m. I’ve packed a bag and hid it by the door. If someone is there tonight when I open it, I’m running. No questions asked, I will simply grab my bag and go. It’ll be sad to see my whole family and Susan murdered by whoever was pretending to be Elijah, but at least I will be able to carry on our bloodline. If it turns out to really be the prophet Elijah, returned to earth after thousands of years just so he can announce the Messiah’s return to a group of random Jews in Oklahoma — then sure, I will come back.
But it’s probably a murderer. What do the Jews in New York City do? Surely, they are not leaving their doors open. And If I were Elijah, I’m obviously going to the Big Apple first. If he announces the Messiah here, there’s not really anywhere to celebrate afterwards, you know? Applebee’s closes at 10, and they aren’t kosher. I guess we could take him to Village Inn.
3:11 p.m. Ok, this is serious. These people are really going to make me open that door. I cannot BELIEVE this. I am your only daughter. Who is Elijah to you? Nobody.
I am your flesh and blood! How quickly they forget.
3:44 p.m. My parents won’t even let me watch the Simpsons, but they will force me to open the door for a strange man in a strange land?! Ok…
4:19 p.m. My “dayenus” tonight will be sarcastic and full of bitterness . Small acts of rebellion result in bigger ones.
6:30 p.m. I’ve been staring at my Hanson poster for what feels like hours, searching for an answer. It’s getting dark.
This holiday is sadistic. First, let the young girl sit on a pillow, get her nice and comfortable. Then BANG - hit her with the horseradish. BOOM - make her eat parsley dipped in salt water. Banish the young girl to the basement to find the Afikomen. (How is this legal?) Give her $5 that she thinks she will be able to spend on American Girl Doll accessories, before she realizes that everything in the catalog costs $40 at least. Make her perform an impromptu four-part song in an ancient language. Then, have her open the door for “Elijah.” The last moments of my life, a mere show. My Dad says I am being dramatic. I say, when you’re washing my blood off the steps, you’ll be sorry. Et tu, Papa? Et tu….
7:22 p.m. Mom says I can’t open the door while holding a baseball bat.
8 p.m. I am eating a bagel in my room out of spite. The sun has set. Dear reader, if you have found this diary, I have been kidnapped by the bloodthirsty prophet Elijah. Please ask my family to communicate with my ghost on “Crossing Over with John Edward.”
12:01 p.m. I take a deep breath. It’s time.
12:05 a.m. Elijah didn’t come…
Marcia Belsky is a New York City based stand-up, comedian musician and writer. Currently she can be seen starring as Offred in Handmaid’s Tale: The Musical, which she also co-wrote with Melissa Stokoski, and has performed around the country including at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Visit her website at www.marciabelsky.com.
Jewish Passover Humor: Elijah Is An Axe Murderer