In the area where Mrs. Nechovitch lives, there are five
kindergartens. All are popular, all are respectable, but one
gan overrides them all: "Sheindy's Gan."
"Where is your daughter going next year?" Mother Nechovitch
probes her bench mate at the park.
"Gan Sheindy," comes the expected response.
"How did you get her into the gan that is so much in
demand?" asks Mrs. Nechovitch to get the professional secret,
and the neighbor happily volunteers tips:
"Don't leave the municipal registration office until they
write you down, black on white, that your daughter's been
accepted; don't settle for vague assurances."
That same day, Mrs. Nechovitch hurried to city hall. A long
and winding line greeted her.
"Sheindy's Gan?" the usher gently asks.
"Yes," she nods her head vigorously.
"To the right," he points to a line as long as a snake. Then,
Mrs. Nechovitch notices another line, a particularly short
one in which only two people are waiting. This line is for
people who don't want to register their daughters for
Sheindy's Gan. But Mrs. Nechovitch will not compromise
on any other gan in the world, only Sheindy's! Period.
So does she declare to the woman standing behind her. After a
long wait, it's her turn to enter.
"To which gan do you want to register your daughter?"
asks the secretary.
"Sheindy's Gan, of course! There's no other option!
I've been waiting a whole hour for the opportunity." The
tired secretary explains that Sheindy's Gan has more
children than it can possibly accommodate.
"I won't accept that," Mrs. Nechovitch balls her fists in
anger. "Already last year, you weren't considerate of my
needs and you put my daughter in Gan Bilha instead of
Gan Zilpah. I won't leave," Mrs. Nechovitch expressed
her resolve, "until you register my daughter in Sheindy's
"I'm sorry to intrude, but other people are waiting in line,"
the secretary at the next table said. "That's the way it is
when people don't understand that you can't accept a thousand
and twenty girls to the same gan."
Mrs. Nechovitch decided that this time she would not flee the
scene. She tenaciously continued to sit in the chair in front
of the secretary.
"Next, please." The secretary ignored the annoying woman.
"Could you please move your chair?" asked the next woman in
line, and Mrs. Nechovitch moved her chair to the side and
continued sitting. She went to take something out of her
purse and came across the knitting that she had put in a
compartment of her bag. "The crafts teacher warned me that if
I didn't finish this potholder, she would lower the mark in
my report card," her daughter had told her. Mrs. Nechovitch
decided that the free time ahead of her (who knew when they
closed?) would be best utilized in finishing the knitting
She clicked her knitting needles, loosened the ball of wool
and looked in amazement as the woman, who had come to
register her daughter at Sheindy's Gan, gave up
immediately when she heard there was no chance. Mrs.
Nechovitch was ready to suggest that she sit beside her,
hoping she would make her long wait more pleasant but the
woman had already left with her copy of the registration form
for Gila's Gan and made way for the next in line.
"Lady, this isn't a resort," the secretary said angrily,
"Please leave! You're disturbing our work." She peered
intently at her ears to see if there was a working hearing
aid but Mrs. Nechovitch was completely focused on the red
strand of wool entwined in the needles.
"I'm sorry to intrude," the nice secretary from the next
table said. "I just wanted to know for what age you're
knitting that sweater."
Mrs. Nechovitch considered the possibility of turning the
potholder into a warm winter sweater and said, "I'm knitting
it for my daughter, the one who will be going to
kindergarten. But I won't be giving it to her if she doesn't
get accepted into Sheindy's Gan!" she concluded with a
"I'm sorry to intrude," the secretary said in shock, "but
children are not weapons and don't have to suffer because . .
. " In the meantime she was typing a registration form for
the next person in line. The not-so-nice secretary was
following Mrs. Nechovitch's movements and the strange way she
was trying to add stitches on the knitting needle. Under the
scrutiny of the secretary, Mrs. Nechovitch couldn't hide the
fact that since the sixth grade, she had forgotten how to
"Why don't you register your daughter for Ahuvah's
Gan?" The secretary suggested graciously. It's a
wonderful gan. They emphasize fine motor development
and encourage artistic sensibilities."
Mrs. Nechovitch put the poor-man's potholder into her purse
with a sigh and aggressively refused the suggestion. The
secretaries continued their work. From time to time they
looked at her askance to verify that she was still alive and
well. At 8:00 p.m., when the dark sky could be seen reflected
in the glass windows of the office, the secretaries got up
and turned off the air conditioning and lights.
"Are you planning to sleep here?" they asked in surprise.
"Fine! I'm leaving. But know this. I will tell Mr. Peprovitch
about your behavior; how you refused to accept my daughter
into gan!" she called out wounded, as she recalled to
mind the image of her neighbor.
Silence and then -"You know Mr. Peprovitch? Personally?"
asked the difficult secretary, alarmed. She had never heard
his name before and because of that, was all the more
frightened. "Well, why didn't you say so right away?" she
attacked Mrs. Nechovitch and her hands searched for the light
switch. "Why did you make us wait all this time?" she asked
again and turning on her computer.
"What do you think?" answered Mrs. Nechovitch angrily, "You
think Mr. Peprovitch has time to waste like the mayor
"Here's the authorization," the secretary's hands shook as
she proffered the precious form to Mrs. Nechovitch. "And tell
Mr. Peprovitch that I arranged it for you."
The secretary from the other table also turned to her
convivially. "I'm sorry to intrude, but perhaps you can
register your daughter with me as well; it's always better to
register twice just to be on the safe side. And remind Mr.
Peprovitch that I would like a pay raise and that I have a
niece who's looking for a job for next year."
"Don't forget!" the two called in unison after the retreating
figure of Mrs. Nechovitch, who left the office with a spring
in her step and two registration forms to Sheindy's
Gan in her hands.
When she arrived at her building, she decided that it was
only right that she fulfill her commitment to the nice
secretaries and to mention their names to Mr. Peprovitch. She
knocked on his door, hoping he'd be home at this hour. He's
almost always busy, as she had mentioned to the secretaries,
and he really doesn't have any free time like the mayor
But if he's really at home, and not at one of the neighbors
where he fixes burst pipes or unplugs blocked drains, she'll
mention the names of the two nice secretaries, who used
Protectzia to register her daughter into Sheindy's