An unexpected encounter

April 26, 2011 - 7:54 PM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: education, General, History and Culture, Holidays, Immigrant Moments, Israeliness, Life 

Not my new friend's grandfather, but a milkman in Ein Kerem (Israel Images)

It was toward the end of Pesach, and I had just picked up my niece from her friend’s house in Malcha, and we were running a few local errands before heading home. With the dry cleaning dropped off, the coffee in hand and some fruits and vegetables purchased, we turned to the car. And there was a small, older lady, with that very specific Israeli white yet lavender hair — probably thanks to henna — hobbling along with her bag of produce and a cane.

She asked if we could help her to her home, which was just up the block from where we were standing on Esther HaMalka Street in Baka. Her house, she said, was on Mordechai HaYehudi. (Esther the Queen Street and Mordechai the Jew Street; both named for the Purim Megilla characters.) So we easily agreed, and began walking, slowly, together. She wanted to know where we were from; turned out she’s lived in the same house for 60 years. Sixty years!

As we ambled along, not exchanging names but having a comfortable discussion, she told us she would show us her house, and her artifacts so to speak. Turns out her grandfather, of Bukharan descent, was the first milkman in Jerusalem — and she had photos, news clippings and his wooden butter churn sitting in the hallway. She showed us her husband’s family’s original home in the now trendy and real estate-worthy Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot; sold for ‘grushim’ — pennies — she told us with a sigh. And then, to the accomplishments of the last 60 years, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whose photos adorned the fridge.

She and I had at least one thing in common: Twin sons. Hers are in their 60s, one a computer engineer, the other works for the Bank of Israel. They and their kids and grandkids were all beautiful; dark skinned, and bright eyed.

When the tour was over, it was clearly time for us to leave. She needed to rest, and we needed to get home. But she urged me to come visit whenever I wanted, and I just may.


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