By Chana Shapiro / cshapiro@atljewishtimes.com

Chana Shapiro

Chana Shapiro

My husband, Zvi, and I were at a big party for Bella, our friend Mike’s sister, who had come to Jerusalem to meet potential mates. After a broken engagement, she intended to mend her heart in the Holy Land.

I was disappointed to note two strong qualities as she worked the room: her sarcasm and her chain-smoking. She disregarded the females at the party, who were magnanimously there to help her. To top it all off, Bella had not purchased any of the American products she’d agreed to bring (and for which Mike had collected our hard-earned money). Bella was a big disappointment.

I wasn’t going to introduce this woman to marriageable men, and Zvi (whom Bella had shunned when she discovered his marital status) didn’t plan to be a matchmaker, either. Her ex-fiancé may have once found her habits appealing, but we didn’t. And we weren’t alone.

The ambience in the room was gloomy. We started to leave, but Mike stopped us. “Do something!” he begged.

“I can read palms!” I boasted.

I’d recently read a paperback, “Your Future in Your Hands.” Even though our Jewish sages caution us against this sort of thing, I just had to show off.

Mike called for attention, and because Bella was the woman of the hour (it felt like 10), she took a seat in the center of the room. I knelt before her and made a big deal of studying her palms.

“Are you right- or left-handed?” I asked. She was a leftie, so I studied her right hand first. “This is your potential,” I announced with feigned authority. “Your left hand, which you use most, will reveal your evolving future.”

Mike’s friends sat politely as I dramatically explored the hills and dales of Bella’s palms, sanguinely predicting long life and a decent financial future. Just for fun, I pointed to a slightly puffy portion of her hand and joked that there was a strong possibility of lunacy.

The group, now aware that I was faking it, chuckled, but not Bella. I had read one skinny book and remembered almost none of it, but Bella was hooked. She had her agenda.

“How soon will I marry?” Bella demanded. “How many children?”

I didn’t like Bella, and I now had a chance to upset her. I let my evil inclination take over, planning to confess after I was finished. I pointed to what may or may not have been her love line.

“See where it touches your life line?” I showed her. “It looks like you’re going to meet your beshert (intended) very late in life, so I don’t know about children.”

Bella jumped up and ran into the bathroom, where she remained. Mike’s apartment quickly emptied as every one of his friends shook their heads and gave me dirty looks.

“I’ll never forgive you,” Mike sneered as we made our exit.

Mike claimed that his sister’s visit had been ruined and that I was the epitome of falseness in friendship. Naturally, I knew what a terrible mistake I had made, and when we returned to the States, I finally tracked Bella down.

“I’m dating someone,” she said, “no thanks to you!” Boy, she really did believe I had power, so I decided to use it, throwing caution to the wind.

Before she could slam the phone down, I blurted out, “I know more about palm-reading now, and I was wrong in Israel! You’ll definitely get married and have children.”

“I better!” she screamed. “But you’ll never know! Don’t ever call me again!”

I immediately sent a heavy-duty prayer heavenward. I know who’s in charge.

I recently took our grandchildren to a carnival, where a bejeweled, turbaned woman sat, examining the palms of people waiting to hear their fortunes. I wanted to watch her style, but the kids weren’t interested. They thought it was crazy to believe that a total stranger could predict anything about somebody’s future.

I wondered if the palm-reader was the type to play around with human dreams and fears, or was she wise and kind? Why not give somebody hope and optimism, I thought, even if you have no idea what you’re talking about? I wish I had.