Things grew worse. R' Moishe found out that R' Nesanel, his
askon-partner, was ill. And he wasn't the only one.
The plague of typhus hit the starving people. "It is no
wonder, with no food, no water to spare for minimal
cleanliness." Hard as they all tried to help one another,
many died from the epidemic and the Chevra Kadisha was busy
all day burying the dead.
People hoped that autumn would end the plague, that the new
year would bring a new mazel. Instead, a locust
pestilence hit the land. Precious blades of grass were
devoured by the pests, grass that people had learned they
could cook into a nourishing soup called chubeiza.
The Turkish government decided that it was necessary to
recuit people to collect locust eggs and destroy them. But
these insects tend to hide their eggs deep in the desert
sands where, protected, they could hatch from the hot sun.
Hatch they did, to form a new cloud of locust in a continuous
process. Locusts, old and new, wrought havoc to everything
green and edible.
The extermination of the locust eggs was imperative. Whoever
walked the street was seized and drafted to collect the eggs.
This was a hard, tedious task, under the blazing heat of the
desert sun, but the luckless captives, weak, hungry and
thirsty, were forced to do as they were bidden and dig, dig,
People sought a way of release from the egg collection; they
were able to buy their way out and a new commodity found its
way to the black market -- locust eggs, sold by the pound.
People sold their furniture and possessions to free
themselves from being enlisted to the impossible task of
collecting locust eggs.
The cold weather dawned again and eventually, the remainders
of the locusts left the land. However, the poor, hungry and
sick people walked about like shadows, fearing what would
befall them next.
Abba Shimony paused in his tale. It was time for
maariv and he rushed off to shul. Right after
havdola, the girls begged him to finish the story.
"There is not much to tell," said Father. "The British came
into Yerusholayim in Kislev of 5678."
"Yanky iz gekummen," Keila called out one morning to
her husband, R' Moshe, as she stood by the window.
"Who is `Yanky'?" he wondered. "And why is she so happy?"
In those years, people did not differentiate between Anglo-
Saxon Americans and Britishers, both being completely
foreign. And so, the British received the nickname of Yankee,
much as it irked them.
"Gradually things improved," Abba Shimony concluded, "but it
was a slow, tedious process, as the whole world was aching
Interestingly enough, now the sparse, meager fare of the belt-
tightening austerity looked fine to everyone.