Levy Levinsky did not have a moment to himself. He had forgotten the strident, sometimes hectic pace of the observant. Always a prayer coming around the corner, a service in a shul, a concern with sitting on the seat of a taxi lest the seat be composed of wool and flax.
Levinsky, speaking Yiddish out loud for the first time outside his dreams, could not see beyond the sphere of Chasidic Buenos Aires. This was a densely packed world, with the frenzied work at Kushner & Sons Import Export, and the tangle of religious observation. He spoke Yiddish in the office, Spanish in the streets. On overseas lines he often used Dutch with operators when trying to contact the headquarters of Kushner’s main office in Amsterdam.
This welter of languages, this shifting of identity, was nothing new to Ori Zohar. But sometimes he would catch sight of himself in a store window, and for a moment he thought his grandfather was tailing him.
After a mere instant he realized it was him: broad brimmed hat, black capote, side-locks, a lush beard, standing beneath a plane tree on a wide boulevard in Buenos Aires. At such moments he said a sentence aloud in Hebrew, to ground the moment in something beside the dead past and this strange, indistinct present. He realized it did not work.