I traipsed through the alleyway, a short cut often taken from temple, and made my way home bound. Well, perhaps a quick stop at the shop for tea, first.
The flanking walls that made up the narrow passage were scripted with graffiti and I recognized some of the local gangs that laid claim upon the few surrounding blocks of my home city.
The 13th Tribe being one. Their symbol a 5 pointed crown atop the Star of David and the Hebrew number 13 at it’s center with the broken whip crossed with a middle eastern blade behind the star itself. The tag was crossed out, however. Not good.
Another tag I recognized was that of the descendants of Purity. An anti-semitic group of ignorant individuals who believed all other ethnicities were beneath them and were to be purged from society. Their mark was a swastika lifted by eagle wings. It was spray painted over the 13. Another bad sign.
How do I know all of this? Heh, because I used to run with the 13 a while ago. Back when I was 12 years old and inducted into the “family”. I’m 28 now and at the age of 18 I went my own way some time after only because I realized the 13 were no better than those whom we battled with.
I almost reached the outlet that opened into a vacant lot between Moshe’s Cafe and Grossberg’s Deli. Lucky me, three tough looking men appeared coincidentally–how I hadn’t noticed before was my own fault; I should’ve been aware of my surroundings rather than losing myself in my own thoughts.
“Well, looks like a lonely little Jew all by himself,” said the biggest of them.
I didn’t like his clean shaven head already, or his bulbous nose. I went through my sequence of action mentally.
“Where’re your Jew friends, Heeb?” Piped up a scrawny looking late teen.
The third with them simply held a hungry smirk. He knew their storm of thunder was about to hit, but they had no idea that they walked into my whirlwind.
The biggest came close enough to reach out with a hand. I landed a jab square into his nose, splattering it and slid to his dead side to take control of his wrist. Striking with the bone of my forearm into the back of his elbow, a resounding crunch echoed while I forcefully flung him to the ground. He was out for this fight, assuredly.
Another one of the descendant advanced upon me. Stupid move. I stepped into him, catching, deflecting and redirecting his wide hook while at the same moment delivering a palm up into his chin. A loud clack of chipped teeth emitted before I took an underhanded hold of his tricep and spun him around into a rear naked choke.
I back pedaled and laid him out nicely onto his back. He was unconscious before he even hit the alley floor.
The third and last of them was hesitant. We stared at one another a long moment. He in his tight black short sleeve tucked into black jeans held up by thin red suspenders.
As for me; well, I was as relaxed in my guard stance as I ever was with a slight smile and a narrow gaze–he stared into the blueish-grey green eyes of a wolf and he knew it; and when you stare into the eyes of a wolf, you’re bound to get bit.
He nodded with disgust, giving me an unspoken promise of retaliation and took off. Cowards run in packs, I found in my experience. It was a small matter, I’ve defended myself against more than just three before–I had to.
In Krav Maga, the warrior lifestyle of my people, we had to.
Yoel M. Ellen
Images by Leah Zeitz