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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Z. Major

Reflections on the Cross for Good Friday.

I used to love the smell of cedar.

My father is a carpenter, just like the rabbi Yeshuah. I loved to go to my father’s workshop and visit him. I liked to play with the curled shavings that crackle when I toss them in the air.

I loved the sound those shavings made when I’d run through them, and they’d fly all around me like dizzy little birds.

My father would laugh and tell me that I looked like a mother hen trying to make her chicks behave. Sometimes I would gather the curled shavings and rub them between my hands so that I could smell what the inside of the trees were like before my father turned them into boring things like tables and chairs for Governor Pilate.

Months ago, before Yeshuah’s first visit to our home, Father told me that Yeshuah had once been a carpenter, but now he was a teacher. Even if he hadn’t told me that, I would’ve known. I could tell by Yeshuah’s calloused hands and strong arms, just like my father’s.

I knew that Yeshuah was strong, because when my little brother knocked over a chair made from olive wood, Yeshuah lifted it with one hand.

After the meal, they went back to Father’s workshop, where father showed Yeshuah the gift Pilate had given him, a new planer that had come on a caravan from the Nile Valley.

Yeshuah smiled and said “I went there when I was a little boy.”

That was weeks ago.

Last night, I was supposed to be asleep, but I heard a commotion, so I followed Father to his workshop.

My mother was there, too, crying.

Father was holding that planer in his hands. He told Mother that Yeshuah had come back to Jerusalem.

She asked if he was coming to visit us again. Father started to weep. I’ve never once seen him with tears.

I didn’t know what to do, so I stayed hiding.

I thought, maybe Yeshuah should come and talk to him about why he was sad.

Mother asked Father where Yeshuah was.

He said that Pilate had him arrested. Mother cried even harder.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I ran into the workshop, just when Father told Mother that because Pilate knew my father could cut timber, he ordered Father to build a cross for a criminal, a Jewish teacher who claimed he was a king.

I’m old enough to know what the Romans do to criminals. I asked Father who the Romans were going to crucify.

He wept again and said, our friend, Yeshuah.



I used to love the smell of cedar.

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