I’ve been asked about my inspiration for the characters of Rocky and Molly in Bashert. Molly was drawn from my wife, Marion’s daughter in real life—Polly Segal (about whom I kvelled earlier this week). Polly is a singer/songwriter who inherited her mother’s wit and joie de vivre. Rocky (Colonel Rachmiel ben Solomon) was inspired by our technical adviser when we made a war film in Israel. He was a colonel in the IDF who was born in Ethiopia and airlifted with his family when he was just a child during Operation Moses, the great rescue operation that brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. To celebrate the young lovers, here is an excerpt where Rocky tells Dan, the main character, how he knew Molly was his bashert. It takes place at the Monastery of Santa Caterina on Mount Sinai, which contains the world’s largest collection of human bones, remains of every monk who served the cloister over the past 1,500 years.
Bones. Everywhere, bones! Huge piles of gruesome, ghoulish bones. Aside from us, there were twenty or thirty evangelical tourists from the U.S., sitting on the dirt floor while their pastor walked back and forth, Bible in hand, preaching. I whispered to Molly. “I think we’ve seen enough, don’t you?” “Sshhhhh!” she said. ‘This is what I’ve been looking for!” She grabbed my arm and led me to where the faithful were sitting.
Once the preacher began to spout fire and brimstone, Molly locked onto his every word. ‘And He set me down in the midst of these hills-ah. And it was full of bones!’
Molly held my hand in a tight grip. “Ezekiel 37!” she said. ‘This is important. Listen.” At first I thought the preacher was just a showman, but slowly…something came over me. I can’t explain it, but sitting in that place, next to Molly, with her hand tightly holding mine, I was feeling something I never had before. Surrounded by stacks of bones, the Pastor looked up at the ceiling.
“And God said unto me: Son of man, can-these-bones-live?” The pastor stopped and turned to the congregation. “What? Is GOD asking ME if these bones can live?”
That’s when the hall started to rattle and shake. “Yes He is, Pastor!” “Go on, tell ‘im,” the whole congregation joined in. “Speak truth to the Lord, Pastor”’ “Don’t be afraid.”
Suddenly a voice rose above the crowd. It was Molly. She was resolute and spoke with the timbre of a prophet. “We say unto Him, YES, LORD!” she cried out. “From the earth below and the heavens above, from the spheres, galaxies and all the multiple universes, YES, LORD, as my soul liveth this day, the spirit will reenter these bones and they will live again.”
Weeping, cheering and endless amens filled the chamber like a well-rehearsed gospel chorus. Everyone felt they not only heard the words of Ezekiel the prophet, they heard the voice that Moses heard right there on Mt. Sinai all those years ago and the strangest thing happened to me. For the first time in my life, I felt that I truly believed!
Outside the catacomb, Molly’s face was radiant. I had just experienced the most inspirational event of my life. I can’t say I understood what she said, but I knew it was true. I put my arms around her. I said ‘ah-men’ and in that embrace, we both felt something neither of us ever had before. It was a transcendent moment.
We walked along the hills outside the monastery in silence. Molly put her tiny hand in mine. Tall and statuesque as she is, Molly has the smallest hands I have ever seen. I did not have a single thought in my head, but my heart was pounding. I stopped and looked at her. She was an ethereal angel and her aura engulfed me. I held her close and felt her heart beating in rhythm with mine. She looked up at me, with tears in her eyes and said, "We can return life to the ones we love, if we truly believe. That’s what I heard on this holy mountain today and in my heart of hearts and I know it’s true."
I don’t know what made me say it but the words rolled out of my mouth. “I believe it, too,” I said. To this day, I can’t say that I do believe or I don’t. All I know is that my role in life from that moment on was to support and protect and love Molly.