A Story about Sam, Izzy, and the Sandbox


Once, there were two brothers named Sam and Izzy.  Sam was the older brother and Izzy was just a baby, really, six or seven years old. Sometimes he asked Sam for advice, but usually he liked to figure things out for himself.   Izzy was extremely active and always getting into scrapes with other kids in the sandbox at the playground.  Sometimes it was his fault, sometimes it was their fault. Sometimes it was serious, sometimes it was just a cut.  Whenever something happened to Izzy, Sam would worry.

What made it harder for Sam was that he and Izzy were half-brothers and so they lived very far apart from each other. Izzy lived with his mom’s huge family which included a lot of loud, gossiping, scheming women.  Many of them were vindictive and several were in the process of a divorce from their abusive husbands, which made them angry and violent, which made Sam worry about Izzy even more. Sam lived on his own.

One day, Izzy called Sam on Skype, sobbing.  One of the boys he had been playing with in the sandbox had gotten into a serious fight with him and twisted Izzy’s arm to the point of breaking it.  He had to go to the hospital, where they told him that 30 bones had been fractured and one was seriously broken.  But he was better now and the doctor even gave him a neon green cast and a lollipop.

Sam yelled into the computer, “How could they do this to you, those monsters? I’m going to fly over there and kill ALL of those boys!  Why would they hurt you like that?” As he  was yelling, he signed into Facebook and wrote in large, bold letters on his status, “CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO IZZY.   MONSTERS ARE GOING TO BE MONSTERS.  THEY’LL NEVER LEAVE HIM ALONE.” Five of his friends immediately liked the status and one person wrote a comment, “OMG, so sad about Izzy. Thoughts and prayers are with him.”

Back in the Skype chat, Izzy sucked on his lollipop and said, “Don’t worry, Sam, I’m okay now.  I went to the doctor all by myself, he fixed me up, and I just wanted to share with you so you would know why I have a cast. You don’t need to come over here.”

“You need to go over there and break the arms of all those boys that hurt you,” Sam seethed. “Let me send you some money so you can buy yourself a good slingshot so that you don’t have to fight with your bare hands.”

“No, it’s okay, Sam,” Izzy said. “I don’t think I need any slingshots.”

“Those monsters will never understand unless you punish them with brute force,” said Sam.

“But you don’t really know them.  You don’t live over here near the sandbox with me and you don’t really understand the way we play every day,” said Izzy, sucking on his lollipop.

“But how can I not?  I read about it on your Facebook, I read the news about your aunts divorcing, and I talked to someone that just came back from your city.  I know exactly what you’re going through.  And seriously, just take my advice and my money.  I’m really far away so I can’t do anything effective or really understand the situation, but it makes me feel better when I send money and post Facebook statuses about you.”

“I know you love me, Sam, but have you ever had a broken arm?” Izzy smiled.

“Of course I have.  Just ten years ago, I broke my arm really, really bad.  I will never forget that time.” Sam paused.

“I know, but that was so long ago.  I don’t tell you this, but I have a broken arm almost every other month.  Of course, lately, it hasn’t been as bad, and this past time took me by surprise.  But I think I know how to deal better with broken arms than you by this point.” Izzy said.

“No you don’t.  You’re younger, weaker, and have less experience.” Sam said.

Izzy stopped sucking on his lollipop and started getting angry. “Sam, this happens every time I tell you about something in the sandbox.  First, you post a really emotional Facebook status that doesn’t solve anything.  Then you try to send money to me to make it seem like you’re participating. But I can only use the money in a certain way, depending on what you feel I should spend it on.  Then you say that you’re going to come over here so you can know what it’s like to live near the sandbox and protect me, but you never do!  Please, when I Skype you to tell you, just commiserate with me and ask how you can help. And if you can’t, don’t go all crazy!”

“It’s true,” Sam said. “I live far away and can’t really understand the situation the way you can, so I do a lot of stupid stuff to try and relieve myself of the guilt.  But tell me, Izzy, how can I really help you?”

“Just love me.  You’re my brother.  Just love me. Stop posting stupid Facebook statuses.  Stop wasting your time arguing with people in the comment sections of newspapers that write about me. Stop trying to send me money and telling me what to use it for. Stop trying to understand how a broken arm feels. If you really want to help, come live near me. Then you’ll get it. But if you can’t come here, just relax.   You’re a good brother. But you get so crazy! If I need anything, I’ll let you know,” Izzy said.

Izzy signed off Skype, took his lollipop with him, and went back to the sandbox.




3 thoughts on “A Story about Sam, Izzy, and the Sandbox

  1. As good as your tale is, you forgot to mention that most of the time, Izzy doesn’t understand the rules the other kids in the sandbox are playing by, either.
    Let’s hope some day Izzy will understand how the other kids play, and learn how not to get hurt anymore.

    Also – I love your tale.

  2. I hear you, and there is something to the idea that Jews who aren’t in Israel, or the US government (Sam himself), are not in a position to understand what Israelis go through, and thus should take a back seat. Or a side seat.

    But the game Izzy is playing goes both ways, and the broken-armed kid could in fact more easily (statistically) be the one Izzy hit yesterday. And Israel is always more than willing for American Jews and the American government to play a very active role — up until the point where we disagree (on the right or left). (Or the American government says: Hey, you built that thing with my money, and I have some thoughts about it).

    One of the reasons I include the thoughts and experiences of Israeli peace advocates in my writing (or make reference to my own experiences while living there) is because I understand the kind of power those experiences and words have, by virtue of the fact that the come from the heart of the conflict.

    But if Israel doesn’t want Diaspora or American government reactions, it’ll have to stop asking for money and political involvement, and it’ll also have to stop calling itself the state of all Jews everywhere. It’s a struggle I face all the time, what with my decision to live here because of what’s going on over there. It’s a very messy thing, some days….

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