Updated: Feb 15, 2020
Leon’s No Newsletter No 248
Yom Kippur 5780 9th Oct. 2019
Turning over a new leaf
Waiting for the 77a (mysteriously Egged scrapped the old 4a), my bus to the Samuel the Prophet Junction, to catch the 110 to Modiin, to visit Eitan and Tamar, a shiny, silver-grey, car stops and a pretty lady gives me the come on. It’s Rivka, our next door neighbor.
I realize that I’m a real “Shmo” (blind fool, in Yiddish) for, until now, not having taken a closer look at her, because even at around 70 she’s a good looking lady.
Ettie’s on her stoep, every chance she gets, drinking coffee, munching brownies and nattering over one and all and all and sundry. I never participate, not because I don’t eat brownies (they contain too much sugar for my constitution, which reacts in a painful way to sugar), also not because I don’t like hearing gossip about the neighbors, I do like hearing about what the neighbors are up to, but I don’t have much to contribute.
Sad to say I hardly know who they are, unless they happen throw cigarette buts on the sidewalk at my front door. Mosty this is the bad habit of our Korean neighbor, whose usually a nice guy, also a tour guide for tour groups from Korea.
Our neighborhood, Hahayil Str. has be
come quite cosmopolitan; downstairs is a pious looking, long, white bearded, black coated, tall black hatted man (named Weiss,which means white) with his family, I’m presuming that the several little girls, I see on the sidewalk, now and again, are his. I don’t think that I’ve seen his wife, unless she’s one of the little girls.
I’m not suggesting that he’s married to a child, it’s just that the older I get the younger everybody else appears, so
that I can’t guess ages anymore.
I presume he’s Jewish, because he looks like the other Jews one sees in Mea Shearim, the ultra orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Jerus
alem. In any case, someone, I don’t remember, told me that he was a Christian convert to Judaism. Now he’s apparently being ultra pious, to make up for all the years that he was a Christian.
Now that I think about it, his demonstration of piety looks more Christian than Jewish. It’s strange to say, but pious Jews don’t take their piety very seriously; one sees pious Jews in Mea Shearim, smoking, changing mo
ney, being sociable with all and sundry, commenting on all the things around them, the traffic, the price of popcorn, the weather, or whatever.
The only thing you’ll never see a pious Jew doing in public, is speaking to a woman. It’s terrible to think that speaking to a woman is worse than smoking or changing money. As far as I can see the only thing that a woman ever did that can be considered bad, is Eve giving Adam the apple. I don’t consider tempting Adam such a bad thing. After all, without that there wouldn’t have been any procreation of the species. In any case, I think it’s a bit hard to
hold that against women for all these years. In any case most of those guys don’t even seem worth tempting.
Below Weiss are two apartments with Arab families. I know that the one guy is a doctor at Hadassah. We now have altogether 5 Arab families i
n our street. They all seem to be professional people, like doctors and teachers. I met one of the families, at a neighborhood party given by Michaela, who really makes it her business to know everybody. That was about 4 years ago. I’m really impressed with her and Rivka and Ettie, who make it their business to know all the neighbors. Unfortunately Michaela hasn’t been well so there have
n’t been any more parties.
Rivka never fails to send a few brownies, with Ettie, after the nattering is over, to give to Noga, my 4 year old granddaughter, the cute, smarty pants, daughter of Ittamar and Anat, my lovely daughter in law. Noga rocks up and
say to grandma Etti, “I see you’ve been to Rivka again”, then returns to Barbie Girls, on the Ipad.
Emanuel opened the door, I sat down at their dining room table and partook of Turkey or Chicken schnitzel. Eitan had some money burning a hole in his pocket. Emanuel agreed to drop us off at the Azrieli canyon(Hebrew for shopping mall).
Eitan, 8 years old, took me by the hand, as he always did when we went to the canyon. First of all to make sure that he didn’t lose his old grandpa and secondly to make sure that we shopped right, which today meant Steimatzky’s bookshop. Eitan reads like lightning, the way he does most things. He’s always
in a hurry to get things done. His principle is “fast and then stop and do the thing thoroughly”.
I can’t keep up with his reading, so he certainly doesn’t have patience for my slow reading. We bought three books for the price of one. Each of them
was a sort of an autobiography written by a kid, mostly a very mischievous kid. He reminds me of the William books that I used to read at his age.
Emanuel picked us up again, after, unbeknown to me, Eitan had called him. We picked up Tamar, from one of her friends. I haven’t mentioned Tamar for a long time, now all of a sudden she has grown up
into a beautiful 14 year old. She’s no longer the little girl, who I used to push on the swings in the park and go boating on the lake, near the canyon, when she used to like to splash and deliberately row under the fountain to get us all wet. Tamar is still full of fun, but takes herself seriously, being seriously ambitious at getting better grades at school, watching her figure, by going to an exercise c
entre, walking 14 floors up to their apartment and so on, but she is still my sweetie pie.
My aim is to spend as much time with my grandchildren as they want to spend time with me. As they grow older, they develop interests that keep them busy, but I’m happy to get a little hug and a smile now and again and to just be there to watch them grow.
I still keep my schedule to go to Kiriat Ono, where Ophir and Alon live. These days we go to the new shopping centre, near the Ricefield Park, where we have hamburgers. Then the kids are off in different directions, one to basketball or chess, Alon and to English lessons, Ophir and I to the bus back to Jerusalem.
Last Thursday I watched Allon play at the beautiful stadium, called Alonim, which has just been built in Kiriat Ono. I watched A
lon dribble the ball to the net and at the last moment, when he feigned shooting,
past the ball to his teammate, who shot for the basket.This surprised me because, until then, I hadn’t realized what a game of subterfuge and trickery is basketball. I
enjoyed that game because I had learnt something about basketball, that everyone else apparently has always known.
Yom Kippur (day of atonement) has come and gone and I don’t feel much holier than I was before, but I’m reminded once again of how much our need to eat keeps us away from doing the more important things
in life, the spiritual things, like reading, studying and writing down our thoughts, about our daily life experiences.
Yom Kippur really brings us to consider our lives. That is, after all its purpose.
If Yom Kippur hadn’t been prescribed to us by God, more than 3000 years ago, I think, that the abundance of physical pleasures, which we enjoy and which disturb our spiritual life would have brought mankind to declare Yom Kippur obligatory.