Stiff as a ramrod, a straight arrow, six foot three, his face a starched white, Isaac Zavelson stands in the elevator beside some of the other employees of Jews for Israel, waiting for it to move. Entering the building, he has saluted the American flag and the Israeli flag. In his hand he is holding an envelope addressed Hon. Richard Nixon, San Clemente, Calif. Inside the envelope is a birthday card. Zavelson heads the Ethnics division of the organization. He is sixty-one. Under him are shorter men than he, more indecisive men, who shuffle when they walk, who do not speak English as well as Yiddish, who like to remain on the sidelines. Zavelson drives them hard—a ten-hour day, and weekends—except Ruthie. Zavelson takes long lunch hours with Ruthie at her apartment; they return to the office beaming, and, forgetting, immediately send down for lunch. Ruthie did not climb the ladder to get her position and salary, or wait ten years as the others did in the department. In order to move her up more quickly, Zavelson became impatient with one of his men, Mendel Berger. Zavelson took away his desk, his Israeli flag, and made Mendel sit on a chair by himself in the corner waiting for assignments. Mendel packed his things and left one day. Ruthie was given his job.
A man enters the elevator, and moves into the corner as much as possible: a thin man in his mid-fifties, with a beard and a moustache, his gray hair forming a pony tail in the back, held together by a rubber band. He wears a sports jacket from Klein’s, has a red handkerchief in his back pants pocket, and carries a dungaree bag over his shoulder, his initials sewn on the bag in suede: L.G. for Luther Glick. He has a paperback in his hand—Zavelson peers sharply at the title: The Way and The Light by Krishna Ramanujam. Luther is just returning from a month’s vacation.