Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5760 - July 26, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Going North

by Leah Subar

Jerusalemite YISCA SHIMONY reminisces the good old days, a good five decades ago, when life was not as structured as it is today. Simple times, simple pleasures.

One thing that we can learn, even today when the conditions are vastly different, is not to take any chances with travelling on Friday.

Vacation arrived and we, the Shimony children, were thrilled. Now we could do things we hadn't been able to do during the school year. We slept late in the morning, kept late hours in the evenings, and hiked and climbed the steep mountains surrounding Yerusholyaim. Though we enjoyed ourselves, we kept waiting for the visit to our grandmother's farm up north. But that visit had to be postponed until after Tisha B'Av. The days of sorrow came and went, and we were still counting.

The week after Tisha B'Av was hectic, cleaning house thoroughly, washing soiled clothing, starching, ironing and folding all the wash (with typical Israeli meticulousness). With all the chores involved, we were kept busy. Finally, we children felt ready to leave, and we were still waiting...

A week had passed and we still hadn't had a hint from Ima. Why was she postponing the trip? we asked. She smiled secretly. Then came Friday. As usual, Ima rose at dawn and started preparing for Shabbos. She cleaned the chicken, soaked and salted it; while it was lying on its wooden board, she ground up the fish, spiced it and put it up to cook. She boiled up some eggs, made a huge potato kugel and even put up tzimmes. The tiny kitchen was filled with wonderful aromas.

When Abba came home from shul, he was confronted directly: "Let's go today!"

He was taken aback. "Today? But it's Friday! How can we risk going on Friday?" It seemed he was overruled, or, rather a compromise had been reached, because while he was eating his breakfast, Ima came to us in the inside room and announced, "If you are all ready within the half hour, we will be going today, with G-d's help, to Grandma's farm."

Ima still had a little convincing to do. "Look, Abba, the food is all cooked except for the chicken, which we can throw into a pot as soon as we arrive." Ima's enthusiasm soon tipped the scale and we girls rushed through our davening, eating and packing. At ten o'clock that morning, we were at Jaffa St., at the [original] central station behind the Freiman & Bein shoe store.

In those days, bus schedules were non-existent, and our bus to Haifa took a long while to fill up. The driver refused to budge before it was full, and so it was closer to twelve by the time we actually started rolling along towards Haifa, a four hour trip. While we would not have to travel that far, but change over at Hadera to get to Binyamina, who knew how long it would take to fill up the bus there?

Ima was optimistic; Abba didn't dare voice the alternate possibilities of not getting there on time. It was already too late to back out...

The bus was old and the climb up and down the old road leading from Jerusalem northward was awfully slow and tedious. Each of us held a plastic bag with her personal belongings and we chatted about plans and reminisced about the woods, vineyards, the large park where Baron Rothschild was buried, the many farmyard animals...

"What do you want to do most?" I asked Tehilla.

"Go off to the woods to read." She was a bookworm. "And you?"

"I want to visit the park. I want to visit Zichron Yaakov and walk to the top of the mountain where you can see the sun setting in the sea and washing the entire region in red." I could visualize this beautiful sight right then.

"And you, Chavi?"

"Oh, many things. But mostly, I'd like to join the grape harvest. I want to sit among the ripe grapes, smell their heady aroma and know that it was I who picked them."

Tehilla looked grave. "I'm not sure I want to do anything except sit under the pine trees. I'm scared silly of snakes and other crawling, poisonous insects."

We talked and dreamed out loud as the bus crawled slowly along. Ima tried to relax, which was difficult with Abba sitting erect and nervous. He pulled out a small Tehillim and started reciting in an undertone. We looked outside the dirty windows and saw that we were traveling far too slowly. Would we make it for Shabbos?

We reached Hadera at three and boruch Hashem, there were still buses going towards Binyamina. Now Ima had her mind on the fish and chicken which had been traveling along without any ice. Would they be edible? Abba was still resentful at having agreed to this risky idea. We ate our lunch sandwiches in the bus and waited for it to get moving.

It was past four o'clock when we finally left Hadera. This bus was also old and dilapidated and the driver not especially adept at maneuvering it along the narrow road and steep incline. We held our breaths. Ima had joined Abba in reciting Tehillim.

We reached Grandma's farm an hour before Shabbos. Bobba Feiga was surprised and delighted to see us. Ima cut short the kissing and rushed off to the kitchen to reboil the fish and cook the chicken. "Yisca, put the rest of the things in the ice box." We had made it.

Our vacation was pleasant and slow paced. Grandma got us a donkey to ride, small, grayish and cute. I followed him all over the yard and he seemed to enjoy it. I was continually brushing him clean, but he would roll to the ground and get dirty all over again.

We helped with the milking and the egg gathering. We watched wide-eyed as Grandma and our aunts went about their chores, never tiring. Chava was allowed to help in the grape harvesting.

Aunt Minna lived not far, and her three daughters kept us company.

The three weeks of vacation sped by pleasantly, contentedly, and we breathed in all the fresh air and feasted our eyes on the greenery before returning home to Jerusalem and Elul. And school and Yomim Noroim...


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