The Woman from Nazareth: Dan Banaya-Seri’s “Birds of the Shade”


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Host Marcela Sulak reads from a folkloric-infused story by the Jerusalem-born writer Dan Banaya-Seri, in which a simple Jewish man uses his minimal understanding of Christmas to try to make sense of his marital obligations.

Excerpt:

“But I heard something different once,” Naftali awakened from his revery, and spoke in a changed voice.
“What did you hear then?” prompted Hakham Duek.
“That sometimes women can manage without the birds.”
“What?”
“To bring children into the world,” he stammered.
“Heaven forbid!” hakham Duek exclaimed.
“But that is what I heard!” Naftali bellowed in despair.
“From whom?”
“From the goyim.”
“What did they say?” he asked mischievously.
“Something about a woman.”
“Which woman?”
“I don’t remember,” he turned to look at the tree again, “they say a spirit entered her.”
“The woman from Nazareth?” he inquired jestingly.
“That is what they said,” he replied.
“Naturally, Mr. Naftali, what did you wish them to say?” he mocked.

Text:
“Birds of the Shade,” by Dan Banaya-Seri. Translated by Betsy Rosenberg. In Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing. Ed. Ammiel Alcalay. City Lights Books.
1996.

Music:
Silent Night by George Martinos
Birds Chirping by Alexander

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