From a recording for parents in America
The burnt soup
Okay, does it work? I hope. I'm completely crushed. I'll tell you why I'm so crushed and why I'm so angry. I boiled soup and meanwhile went for five minutes to get a tape and found no tape that works, whereas in the one I found, the batteries are almost exhausted and my voice comes out distorted. Also because I'm a little cold. I do not know why. Anyway, when I got back to the soup, it was almost waterless. I do not know what happened, I did not go for a long time. Now I do not take any risks. I rebuilt and I stand by the pot and stir it. I think I understood what my mistake was the last time. ...
Panic from the letter Debbie received about her father's condition
Today is Hanukkah, almost Rosh Chodesh Tevet, December 2, and we are on vacation from college. I know I have not written to you for a long time and I deserve to be shot, and that is first of all, because I am busy, as usual. But, Mom, I have to teach you how to write a letter. I received a letter from you that he is a "pure murderer." I'm not kidding. I did not know what to do after reading this letter. I was frantic. In one letter you told me how Dad injured his back, injured his leg, broke his toe, maybe injured his surgery, it's going to take time and "goodbye, I'll write more details later." I went crazy! What kind of business is this?
Anyway, I figured he's fine and I'm sure you did not notice how you wrote it. I mean, I did not worry. I'm just .. I guess I got a little bit of the feeling you sure got when it happened. God. I hope he's fine. Are you okay? I realized you must be fine by now.
I also received postcards from you from your trip. Looks nice, not that you're really writing much to me in postcards and not that I expect you to, but I see you're back at Universal Studios [in Los Angeles], even though you've been there recently. Wasn't it boring to see it again? I guess Dad's having fun. Hey, this is the first time he's been out of this era and ages. Have you seen Grandma and Aunt Gloria and the whole world? How are Stan and Jin? How was Thanksgiving in St. Louis? Didn't you miss going back to Shirley's house, or whatever it was this year? I'll kind of miss not getting the tape, like last year's Thanksgiving card. Oh well. Are you home now? Wait, yes, you're probably home. Were you home on Hanukkah? Did you do a Hanukkah party like every year? I do not know. Anyway, I hope you had a good trip. Sounds like it was. You really deserve it, especially you, Mom.
The lesson that Debbie taught to eighth graders
I have a lot, a lot to tell you. Well, this week I'm pretty excited, Hanukkah started on Thursday and on Sunday I had two tests, which of course I did not study until Sunday. I thought I would study on Saturday, but I was with Toby, which is not necessarily a reason for me not to study. It was not that I was a stranger who did not feel comfortable entering the room and studying, but I said to myself: 'No, Saturday is not a time to worry about things that happen during the week. No, no. 'In fact, it's pure rationalization.
I did not learn anything and then on Sunday I learned things about an hour before one test and another hour before the second test. There was one in Halacha, most of whom I knew anyway. It was a very difficult test, but I passed. It was fun, it was nice. The second test was in English, which I told you I take three hours of English so I can get a certificate to teach English as well.
I'm learning methods how to teach and it's pretty easy, really. It's a kind of psychology course on how to teach a language. Unlike other things, language is something you teach someone how to memorize. You're just teaching new symbols. It has nothing to do with intelligence. There is a professional way to teach this. You do not need a particular part of your brain to learn the language. And linguistics is pretty interesting. It teaches what part of the anatomy is the ear, and what throat, in the different languages and things like that, anyway. Letters and phonetics and morphology and all that.
I also take a course in didactics, which is how to teach English up to fifth grade. For my test on Sunday, I needed to know the syllabus, the schedules of how fifth graders study in Israel. I had to know the syllabus by heart, all the different patterns, topics, verbs, connecting verbs, countable nouns, all that. Why did I have to know this by heart? They printed things. I do not know, but in fact it is good, because I know now every week .. I am really, really expert now in what fifth graders learn in English every week. I know how to display it, I know exactly where I can get audiovisual aids. I know which office to go to, I know which books to use, I know there are about five different programs. You need to know that mom, from ELS, but there are English speaking books and there are TV shows and there are movies. And there is the usual syllabus of the Ministry of Education. About five different programs. I know how to connect them. I know when they need to. I know exactly on which page reading lessons. I know the textbooks and all sorts of technical things. So it was also memorization.
On Monday I went and watched an eighth grade class that was learning algebra, because on Tuesday I had to teach an algebra class, and there's nothing like the early preparation I got. Last year I also taught. I taught Judaism and the Bible at a level like I learned at Hebrew Academy, a ninth grade level, this year I get more than that. I can choose what I want to teach. Not just Jewish studies. I want to teach math, because that's what interests me. So I went to an algebra class for eighth-grade girls, not the most brilliant ones. You know, there are groupings, so it was one of the lower groupings. I had to teach them "set theory." This is what I'm learning, that he's a kind of "ego killer."
So on Tuesday I went and taught. And I'm not kidding, I got the biggest boost boost in my confidence because it went so well. I had such a great time. I was with all the chalks in different colors and played with the kids, like I was another one in class, and I did not want time to pass, it was so much fun. I also enjoyed painting the different things. One teacher said it was very good and that she thinks they learned. It was really nice. Obviously I was in a good mood that day.
Hanukkah party in these valley caves
Then, Wednesday was the last day of school, except for Thursday morning when we had classes, because Thursday night was Hanukkah. Wednesday the whole college went for a walk to these caves that are outside of Jerusalem. Not too close to Jerusalem, quite far. It's called the Valley of the Gods. It looks like a big valley. You know, flat soil, nothing special, but there were those little holes that you have to be careful when you walk, because if you fall through them, they're deep, they're 50 feet deep. There are caves built there ages and ages ago. They do not even know exactly how they were built. They are not waterways, they are caves. It was amazing. It's pouring rain and no one knew how to walk in the field in the rain. It was really a foggy day, and when we got off the truck it looked like the middle of nowhere. We stood around this hole. There were about 200 girls. The whole college. I do not know how they are ... it's a tremendous amount of organization. There are about 200 girls and we are all standing there. We had to go in one by one. It was not just getting into the hole. You had to squeeze between those two protruding rocks. And you think that once you go inside, then inside the cave is right there, right? I was one of the last, because I did not feel like pushing my way to move forward, and the last one to come in is also the first one to come out.
So you go in, you get crammed in, you go in and you can not stand. You have to bend over. You follow the person in front of you, and quite at first you also can not bend anymore, you have to get down on your hands and knees and that's it ... you have to crawl on your hands and knees, and pretty fast you can not even do it. You have to drag yourself like a snake. There is no space for the elbows and there is nothing up. What is? It's pure dirt and sand. Can you imagine how filthy we were?
It lasted a long time. We had to pull ourselves up and pull ourselves up. My knees were so worn. everyone's. At the end we got to the other side and then it's straight down. You have to bring yourself into a situation where you are just pulling yourself and suddenly you are coming to an end. It's like a cliff. You are there with your head up front. How do you rotate yourself to lower your legs? So you can get off? And it's not that easy. This is a high jump and there is a special way to do it. People had to persevere. It was really dangerous. It was great. It was something. You try to fall and suddenly you look, and now you suddenly see that it is a huge room, a huge cave. Gorgeous. It's so spacious and full, it looks like it's hewn. It looks like a palace. I do not know where it came from, I do not know where it was. And on top of that little hole, so you can see how far we're down, a little hole. And far far up you can see the stars coming out. You can see the stars in this little part of the hole.
It was so neat. It was really neat. We sat there. There was an amazing echo, we all sang. The sound was fantastic. We were all down there. It was really stunning, but it also took a long time for everyone to get in. Like I said, we crawled one after the other, but it was so nice. It was hot. We just froze outside. It was hot inside.
We stayed there for a while and sang, then got up again. We had to climb back up. The climb was the strangest thing. We went out as we went in and it was harder. Harder to get up. We had to climb again and again on hands and knees and extricate yourself from the pit instead of entering it. It was stunning.
I'm sorry. I can not think of the words to describe the sky, we were so out of nowhere, it's not like when you're in the middle of the city that the city lights cover the darkness. The sky was so full of stars, they were so clear. It was like the Milky Way, as shown in the cartoons, like one white board, that was what the sky looked like. It looks even more beautiful than when you're on a plane. When you are on a plane at night it is amazing because you are above the clouds and you can see the stars.
It was so beautiful and it was really cold outside, really cold and vigorous. I could stay out forever. I do not know, trips do it for me. I do not know exactly where. I'm so excited, more than anyone, probably. Really, there were more people on the ground, some even enthusiastic. I think it was one of the most exciting, I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay there. I wanted to live there. I have a list of places I want to live and this is one of them. In the cave, but we had to go, it was getting late. We all went back to the different trucks, buses like trucks, and moved on.
And we went to this other cave. There is a rumor going around that we are going to have a Hanukkah party in a cave. What does a Hanukkah party in a cave mean ?! Inside is complete darkness. We can not .. How can 200 girls sit in the dark in a cave? I do not know. Anyway, we arrived, the buses stop, we get off, in a hilly area, not mountains, but just half hills. Suddenly there are big lights, fire, flames. Eight candles and then one large pillar, the ninth, like a giant menorah on top of one of the hills. It was so stunning.
There are girls in college who are in charge of things like parties and such. Well, they planned all this business, but no one knew anything about it, except the girls on this committee. They went out and arranged the whole thing themselves. Of course, the bus drivers knew and the instructors knew, Dov Begun ..
It was beautiful. There were candles lit everywhere. We followed the candles, it was like walking through the moon and all the craters, but it was really scary. It really was like being on a planet, because there are all the big holes underground and you were above the ground and the moon, and all the stars are shining in. You keep following the candles and being careful not to fall because it was really slippery. And suddenly again we were in a big, huge room, which looked like it had been hewn for just that purpose, just to have a party in a cave. We got there, and everything was arranged, as if he had a stage. Everything was natural. She had a stage and had places to sit, but these were not even put in by these ... it was not like a stone erected to sit. It was just there. It was a good way to sit.
Perfect for a party. We all went in and sat down. "God, the student council has put lights everywhere." It was beautiful and they did such an amazing job, putting candles in paper bags with sand to hold the candles, and the bags did not burn because the candles and if they did burn, it also was not so terrible. It looks so amazing. It was nice and romantic and just candlelight everywhere, and so natural in the middle of the cave. I went crazy.
We sat there and they made these plans. It turned out there were girls who planned it. This modern dance troupe danced and the choir sang, and people put on plays and sketches and read songs. All about Hanukkah. Anything they really wanted. We sang and we had food and donuts that I had a million of them. I'm not kidding. I ate like crazy. I do not know, it's hi E so nice. It was really so nice. And we did a party like a surprise party for the whole school. We came back really late at night.
Friendships with Judith Kleinpiz and other daughters
On Thursday, the eve of Hanukkah, we had classes, but I decided there were about two or three girls I wanted to meet and really get to know and I wanted to talk to them and be their friend. It's not the kind of thing you go into someone and say, 'Hey, my name is Debbie. I want to be your girlfriend. Let's be friends. ' No, you do not do that, but it just happened through all sorts of coincidences with the same girls I always wanted to meet .. I'm not kidding, the same girls I wanted to get to know better, in different circumstances and different coincidences, either they came to me or I went to them Or we were in class and sitting next to each other.
I also studied with some girls, different. One girl, her name is Judith [Kleinpiz]. She's really nice. she is married. She lives really close to here. But she just got married. I knew her when she was not married. She got married a few months ago. I know her from last year, she's really nice. We studied together and we do it really interesting, but I go there and we talk all the time about all sorts of different things. She is so nice to me and she always invites me to her for dinner. When we did not have heating in the apartment for a while, she gave me all these blankets. She always invites me. She wants me to come sit. And her husband studied at a yeshiva, in the "center," so maybe they'll invite Eli to sit and I'll stay here at home and in kindergarten and then we can, you know, spend Shabbat. That would be really nice.
The shame of the cookies
Anyway, I decided that for Hanukkah I was going to make cookies. This is a joke, right? You saw how hard it is for me to make soup. Wait until you hear the story about the cookies. No, that was really bad. That's what I did on Thursday. I baked cookies and they all came out horrible and disgusting. We do not have a baking oven in the apartment, so I used a small toaster that I could put in about three cookies at a time and did not have time for that, so I decided to just bake everything like a cake and then cut into squares. Well, it took an eternity to bake. In the meantime, I drove to the Mea Shearim neighborhood and walked around there. I just love going there when it's a holiday eve because there are so many people running around to buy their menorah and buy oil and buy decorations. I was looking for a gift for Toby, which I never found. From there I went to visit my old girlfriend and it was so much fun.
Okay. I returned. These cookies were not ready yet. It was disgusting and I waited. Then I lit Hanukkah candles here. The next day, I was going to go to Toby's and on the way to bring the cookies I baked for my friend Judith Kleinpiz. I cut them into squares. They were as hard as stone. They looked like bricks. They did, they really looked like bricks. So Eli said later, when he saw them. He asked: 'What? What did you make them for? "I said," This is Hanukkah. I baked them. "So Eli said," Hanukkah? You need to keep them for Passover. "His whole family was there and they did not understand what he meant, so he said, Like bricks "and he picked up one" and they feel like bricks "and he tasted one" and they taste like bricks. They're good for charoset when you're supposed to remember the bricks we built in Egypt. "
Okay, so that's it. Anyway, when I decided to bake the cookies and planned to bring them to Judith, I put them in a box and wrote a really nice note. I was going to wait until I was sure she was gone because I knew she was leaving town on Friday, so I waited until about 11:00 in the morning. I was sure she would not be there. I went to her house, which is on the way to the bus stop. I was about to go in and she just went out with her husband. She saw me and said, "Hey, oh, I'm so glad I met you." She had something to give me. She said: 'Oh, are you going to the bus? Come on. Oh, I see you baked cookies for Mrs. Horowitz. It's nice". She knew I was going to them.
I was so ashamed to give her the cookies, because I thought I would leave them on her doorstep and she would not receive them until Monday, until she returned. Then they would be outdated and if they were not tasty, it would not be my fault, it would be because they had been sitting there so long, right? I was too embarrassed to give her the cookies, and we went to the bus together. I went as far as Horowitz with them, because they went in the same direction. I got off the bus and never gave them the cookies. It was so embarrassing. That's how Eli saw them, because I had them with me when I went there to sit. It was also one of the few times Eli was home to sit.
Debbie and Eli's relationship
Eli and I see each other about once every two weeks. It's not because we do not love each other, God forbid. Not at all. It's not because we do not have time. I mean, we could if we wanted to see each other every day, I guess. I mean, this is what we did last year, if we really wanted to. But that’s how we decided it should be, because we both have a lot to do. There is no point in seeing each other so often. The thing is I do not think we want ... he does not come home for Shabbat, but he does come home occasionally during the week, but because it was Chanukah Shabbat, he did come and I had a really nice Shabbat. Not because of him, just in general I had a pleasant Saturday. There was a lot of company and it was Hanukkah and it was special. Anyway, Eli and I do not look so much, but it does not matter, because I do not know. I do not know. That's just about everything. I do not know.
Visiting patients at Rebbetzin Hanna Tao and helping the mother
On Sundays I study with another lady named Hannah Tao. She is also really nice, her husband is the head of the Merkaz Harav yeshiva. She's a really nice lady, and I heard she's sick, so I went to see if I could help her. It's not that she has a phone. She has no phone. I was thinking of shopping for her, I like going to the grocery store, you know, stuff like that. So I went there and made arrangements for her and while I was with her we talked and ate lunch and all that stuff, and then someone came in and told about someone from the neighborhood or something like that who was going to give birth. Everyone there was really excited and especially Hannah was excited, because that woman's husband died a very sudden death around the age of 40, when she was pregnant. She has two more children. It has been so hard and she is in a bad mental state in recent years. Hannah Tao does everything she can to help her. She goes to her every day. She helps and takes her children and all that.
Hannah was under pressure to go to the hospital, but she was ill, so I went on a mission to Bikur Cholim Hospital. I went to see the midwife and give all these messages and find out how she was. She only gave birth the next day, by the way. Anyway, I ran back and forth and arranged care for her children and all this work. It was a really crazy day. This was so much fun. It's such a good feeling. I also found out it was a son after two daughters, so that was gratifying.
Experiences during the Hanukkah holiday
Now, I want to tell you about yesterday. I'm on vacation now and was planning to go on a trip with Toby. Intended to go north somewhere, I do not know. And I was going to spend one day all day with Isul while on vacation, and the rest of the time, I had two or three days that I thought about staying here to study, because I was really lazy and had some work to do. I was going to spend a whole day in the library and study.
On Sunday I ran around all day. Monday, I'm going to tell you about it, it was amazing. On Monday morning I have some time in the morning and I go to the Mahane Yehuda market. This is the Jewish market. This is a section of Jerusalem, the old section. It's like the oldest part of town. Behind the market, the streets are so narrow, about two inches wide with small doors. If you walk in the doors, suddenly there is a large yard with about 500 houses there. Small apartments. Some are really beautiful and nice. It's like a whole other world there. Inside and out of all this crazy stuff, there are a million meetings and there are a million little shops, and a whole bunch of ... all kinds of families and there's everything. There's also all kinds, I do not know, not so much ... All kinds of hooded boys running around and all kinds ... I do not know, but it's not worse than any other part of town, really.
Walking there during the day is completely 100% safe. It's to soothe, or whatever the word may be, all your fears. Absolutely safe to go there. The only time it's not safe is at night, dangerous to walk there about as much as walking, say at Weaton's at night. That is, the Israelis say, "It is not worth going to the Judean camp at night," but nothing has ever happened. I do not know what they are really saying. it is not dangerous.
Anyway, during the day on Mondays there is a blind lady who lives there, she has a room in the sad part, in this really sad part. It's not dirty, but really neglected and she's blind, so I go there on Mondays and I talk to her. I make her coffee. I help her clean. But she's really amazing. Her house is the cleanest thing I've ever seen. She keeps it so neat and clean. I do not know how she does it because she is blind. But she has lived there for 40 years. She knows the neighborhood up and down, back and forth.
A clash of cultures in Israel
The thing is, it's so interesting, it's so fantastic. This lady, named Zakia, is from Turkey. In Israel it is like a clash between two cultures; Western culture and Eastern culture. Western culture is a kind of takeover and sort of imposes itself on Eastern culture. And you get the feeling and the impression that a lot of Spaniards from Eastern countries, like Morocco and all that, are dumb, stupid, outdated, do not know what they are doing. They come with their crazy customs and their low intelligence, and they look different. They are dark. They have dark skin. In short, racism. It's just like in America with the blacks. It's really crazy.
It's so wrong what they say about them. And they point and say, "Look, most of the criminals are Spanish, it's just because they got confused when they got here, because they're suddenly put in mixed schools." In Eastern countries boys and girls never, ever, ever study together. They never study ... they did not know why it was like that, it was not really for religious reasons. It was for religious reasons, but they .. as part of their culture was that boys and girls were always separate, even if they were not religious they were separate. This is such a strange thing.
Suddenly they arrive in Israel. Israel 20 years ago, but even now they are called "equality." Everything should be the same. Not only were they told that boys and girls should study together, but they were forced to be together. This is just one example. Everything is like that. They did it on purpose, rather, that the boys and girls from the East would study together. Why? Because want to remove from them all the old customs and everything. Let there be modernity, equality, socialism and all that stuff. And everything is like that. Bad. You will learn, you will learn, you will learn the math, you will learn it. I do not know, but no one listened to them, so they got confused, this whole generation here is really messy.
Now they are trying very carefully not to let the same thing happen. They learned from their mistake. everyone agree. Now they are trying to make sure that the same thing does not happen to the Russians. The Russians entering now, are from a different culture and it should be understood that not everyone is Western. Not that you should be like them, but you should not want everyone to be Western. Anyone can contribute and can give. They can help in their way, and build the nation in their way. And you're just confusing things when you're trying to force the different cultures to eat three meals a day and go to work and take a nap in the afternoon and that's it. They will do it their way. Too bad.
Anyway, when I'm at Zakia's, she's inspiring me. For me, all I have told you now is things I have heard people talk about, or read in articles. I see small pieces in myself. But I really do not know anything, right? I really do not know anything. I do not even know what Spaniards are. I mean, it's crazy, right? There are many such girls in college. They have the funniest names, you know. They are so cute. I mean, what do I say? One of them with me in the apartment. It's ridiculous, because it's not them and us.
It's not racism like in America. Everyone in Israel came from a different place, so there is Spanish and there is Russian, there is French and I am American and there is Sabra. That is, there is no negativity to anything. You call the people here by names because everyone is a different thing. Almost every person has their own group. Zakia is a Spaniard from Turkey and she is so old A, she is in her eighties. When I first went to her it was the funniest, because what do I have to say to an eighty-year-old lady? I do not even know what I was thinking. I sat there for so long and thought I knew nothing about this woman. I have no idea what her life is like. I can not even imagine what her life should be like.
If I was in America and I really was, I do not know .. If they were Jews, then I had something in common. I knew they grew up in Europe and I know the stories a bit. I mean, at least I could imagine Yiddish and cholent and I do not know what else, the pogroms .. I mean, I could imagine what their lives looked like and I know what they think is important, just as it is very important to have chicken soup, and very important to eat. It is very important to stock up in the winter. I know that, you know what I mean.
And if they were not Jews, as I remember when I worked in the nursing home (in America), then there are old men, say, born in Pennsylvania who worked in the coal mines all their lives. You can talk to them about baseball, about football. You can talk to them about America. You can talk to them about agriculture. I mean, everyone has these things. Or a carpenter, I remember there was a man who was a carpenter. I talked to him a lot. I can imagine what their lives look like. After all, I lived in America. I could also see what's important, but with Zakia I have no idea. I have no idea at all, at all.
Not only that, but she does not speak Yiddish, she speaks Arabic. I learned so much Arabic. She speaks Arabic and she barely speaks any Hebrew. And I speak English and barely speak some Hebrew, so we get along. It's so funny, because not only that, she's blind. So when I try to talk to her, I can not draw a picture for her. She does not see my face and my hands or anything. She only hears me talking. And she also speaks Arabic to me. I learned a lot of other things I forgot. I'll have to remember when I'll be back.
Volunteering with Zakia
Anyway, so now I'm learning about her. I'm learning how her life is. She has about 50 million siblings. It's so interesting. I love her, she is so warm-hearted and she is so nice. I go to her and I do not do so much. I go and sew buttons on her clothes sometimes. It's hard for her to see. I do not have to clean, because she does it herself. I make coffee and we talk. That is so funny. What is most difficult is that a young American girl is talking to a real old Turkish lady who does not speak Hebrew, speaks Arabic, has lived in Israel for 40 years in the same place, in this one room and she is blind.
When Zakia hears about me, she really likes to hear about my life. She loves hearing what I do and all that. The hardest thing for her to understand .. First of all, it was important for her to know how many siblings I have. I told her I had two brothers. It was very important to her that I have big brothers. I have two big brothers and Mom and Dad and I am here alone.
Zakia could not understand. She kept asking me, 'How could they let you go? How could your brothers free you? How did your parents release you? How could you be outside alone? it is a shame". I did not understand what she meant. I could not. I told her, "Well, I wanted to come and study here." I argued with her and told her in very Western terms that "a school here is as good as a school in America, and I want to be in Israel, and all my life I have wanted to go to Israel. My parents understand this and they understand that I am very, very happy, and with the help of the name one day they will come, and I will fly home to visit, and they will see me. I do not know. It's a perfectly sensible choice. ' I showed her both sides of the argument and showed that logically there is no reason I should not be here.
Zakia just couldn't figure it out. She said: 'Yes, but how could they release you? How can your mother release you? Girl, you're alone, girl. How could your brothers stand it? 'And I spoke to her in a different mind.
The exciting experience with Rebbetzin Sharabi in the Judea camp
Now, how did I get to Zakia? Well, Hannah Tao, that lady I told you about, told me that in the Judean camp there is a woman named Rebbetzin Sharabi. She is also Spanish, you can tell by her name. She lives in a poor part of the Judean camp and she is all kind. She has spent her entire life helping this entire neighborhood. She knows every family in the neighborhood. She collects clothes, writes letters, gives speeches and teaches. People donate things to her, give old clothes. When I gave the box of clothes, this is probably where it came from. I hope they sent already, because people really need it. It's raining and cold.
Rebbetzin Sharabi delivers it. She has all these ... she helps old and young and unmarried girls pregnant. She does everything. This woman is amazing, she has so much energy. She does everything herself. She is not affiliated with the municipality, but now they are trying to get her to come and work for them. She does not want to, because she does not want to be involved in any politics or anything, but anyway, she just knows, because she just lives there all her life. She knows the people and she goes and helps them. She has a lot of people like me who volunteer here in one form or another. I go and take care of one lady, and then someone else takes care of other people. I have an old lady, but there are children and there are families. She is so amazing.
On Monday, at Zachia, we had a little Hanukkah party. I bought her cookies and all that. Then I wanted to go visit Rebbetzin Sharabi, see how she was and talk to her, so I went there. She was at home. I told her how the rain was leaking into Zakia's room, maybe she knew someone who could fix it. And we started talking. I'm not kidding, this lady came to Israel when she was really young. I do not know where. She's not that old. She has piercing eyes, I'm not kidding. Then when I finished and was getting ready to leave, she wanted me to stay for lunch, but I did not want to stay, because I do not like to eat a big lunch. The day before, I was at Hannah Tao's house and had a big lunch with chicken in the middle of the day. I did not feel like it. I did not want to eat. Anyway I did not want to take food from her. She does not have that much. I did not want to eat there, but it started to rain. It was raining, too much for me to go anywhere, so I stayed and ate lunch.
Rebbetzin Sharabi began to tell me the story of her life. It was so interesting. I was sitting there, I was mesmerized. I'm not kidding you, I did not notice that the whole day has passed. She told me not just a life story, not like a life story, she told me what is true in Israel, in the Judean camp and how it has been for years and years. She told me how during the War of Independence she used to run from one shelter to another and bake bread. She and several other girls ran around and baked bread and avoided bullets.
Rebbetzin Sharabi did not just tell horror stories to make it sound glamorous, and she did not tell me about herself, she just wanted me to see what it was like. And she said, 'Do you know the ice cream stand in this corner? Once upon a time there were the British ... "I'm not kidding, it was so amazing.
She told me that when she was in the hospital, as a nurse, people came in and died. It was pretty sad. She told me sad things. Suddenly we both became so sad. Suddenly I found myself crying, and she cried. We both cried. She continued. She told me more about the war and after the war and everything. It was, I'm not kidding, it was the weirdest thing. As she tells me, she also sticks out all sorts of words in Arabic because she was so emotional and she also speaks Arabic. She told me about different people and different things, in her way, according to the things that are important to her.
There's one thing I just noticed. Every five seconds she gets up to give me more food. Everything was food. I'm not kidding, I've never seen anything like it. She kept saying, 'Be healthy, healthy, healthy. Eat, eat, be healthy, be healthy. Eat, eat. ' It was so cute. Suddenly I was looking at my watch, it was almost 6pm in the evening and I was going to go home. When I came to her it was about 11:00 in the morning. We just sat there and talked all day. I did not speak, I barely said a word, I just sat there fascinated.
Rebbetzin Sharabi has a very small home, not because they are poor, meaning they are poor, but there is simply no room for expansion. They live in two rooms, one for sleeping and one that is both the kitchen and the living room. Not as dirty in the neighborhood as it was in the slum when I worked at Weaton's, it's a very clean neighborhood. Her house is very small and has one table and three chairs. Their services are shared with another family and need to go out. It's really nice, very simple and nice.
She has lived there all her life. Every corner you look at is filled with old shoes and old clothes she distributes to people, in addition to all the work she does at the club. The rest of the house was full of holy books, because her husband, I think he is the Rosh Yeshiva of one of the small yeshivas there. I do not know. And so he has his books, and she has her books. It was amazing, it's like a whole other world.
Wow, yesterday was such a day. I did not finish describing to you at all. Suddenly at 18:00 her phone rang. She has a phone. She spoke a little Arabic and then hung up and said very matter-of-factly: "Come on." We start walking in the alleys of Mahane Yehuda. All these narrow alleys. I did not know where we were. I got so lost and suddenly we go into one room, one little yard and then into a little gate under .. how does she know? She knows every corner of the city.
We went up these stairs to another yard and walked until we came to a house that had a real old woman in it. Rebbetzin Sharabi received a phone call from the hospital that this lady should have been admitted to a nursing home and was not allowed to enter because of all these bureaucratic reasons, so they called Rebbetzin Sharabi. Everyone knows that when she needs help she is called, and this grandmother she needs help. I was sitting there while Rebbetzin Sharabi told them what to do, how to get in and that she would help them collect the money. She was so hot. She went over to the old lady and helped her. The old lady radiated happiness. She felt so happy and she felt so good.
When we finished there we went back to Rebbetzin Sharabi's house and lit Hanukkah candles, and then we went with her husband. Her husband has a yeshiva, but there are all these boys walking around the neighborhood, all these boys are nine, ten. She and her husband organized a big Hanukkah party for them at the yeshiva. A huge party. They spent so much money on food. They paid orchestra players to come and play and dance. Everyone was there to celebrate Hanukkah, so the boys would not wander the streets and such. Maybe to interest them, so that instead of spending their time wandering the streets and turning to crime and theft and all that, which is very common, here they have somewhere to come and welcome. They gave each of them a bag of candy. They gave each of them a small dome. It was not the kind of party I've ever seen. It was a Spanish party. It was a Yemeni party. There were queer songs and insane intensities and sound so awful. It sounded so disgusting, and people went crazy. It was so great.
When I walked away I was so blown away. I could not eat anything more. They kept saying, 'Eat this and that, you need to eat this, you need to make a blessing. When you eat, you do not eat to eat, you eat so that you can make a blessing. Do you not want to bless God? So eat. This is a mitzvah. Eat, eat. ' I went crazy. And wherever she went, Rebbetzin Sharabi took me with her, and everyone respected her. She's like the queen of the whole neighborhood, so they respected me too because I was with her. It was so amazing.
From there we went to the city. It was already late at night and it was already dark and raining. We just went and she and she said there was another bride she met, some lady who just got married a few months ago that she helped her a lot with the wedding and everything and now the Rebbetzin Sharabi wanted to show her films that were shot at the wedding. So we went to the bride's apartment, which was also very small. Suddenly we go inside and there were at least 100 people gathered to watch the wedding, and food everywhere, music everywhere. They had a party. Everyone came and said, "Aunt Sharabi is here," they call her "Aunt Sharabi." And I just stood with her. Refreshments, tea, it was amazing.
I have not had a day like this at all My life. It was such an experience. And we showed the movies and everyone laughs and you see these people, they were so happy. They have such a talent for being so happy, I was so happy. I was so stuffed, I ate so much. Lots of weird stuff. I probably ate fried grasshoppers and all that. No, I do not think I had fried grasshoppers, but I would not be surprised, because I had all this spicy stuff I had never tasted before. Stored. It was great. It was so great.
At the end of the day, I hugged Rebbetzin Sharabi when we left. She led me to the city, so that I would not lose my way. I was in the middle of the city and suddenly I felt cheerful in Wonderland as I returned to reality. Oh, it's back to the city where there are cars. It's back to a city where there are other people. I was just so broken when I got back to routine.
I looked at the clock and it was almost 10:30 p.m. Can you imagine? Can you imagine? I took the bus home. I did not go home, I was so excited, so. I went to my girlfriend, Judith Kleinpiz, the one I wanted to bake cookies for. I went to her house and told her everything, because I did not believe .. I wanted to make you a tape right away and I could not find the silly batteries when I returned. I had to look today. So now that I'm telling you, it's like a second hand, because I've already told Judith, but not really, because this is the first time I'm telling it in English. Yesterday I spent the whole day, I did not say a single word in English, everything was in Hebrew. This is a big thing for me.
Okay, this tape is running out. Of course, I chatted my way through this whole tape, without really saying anything. So anyway, I want to say I'm fine and I'm really healthy, and now you know why I did not write, but I will write.
I hope you had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful trip, and a wonderful Hanukkah holiday and a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope everyone is fine. And say hello to everyone and Brian and Stanley and the family. I'm such a terrible writer. I did not write to anyone. I barely wrote to Roda. I did not write to anyone. How are you, Mrs. Rosenblum? Anyway, Yesul is fine, everyone is fine and Horowitz is fine. I do not know what else to tell you. Write back to me.
Oh, send me stuff with this guy. You said he could bring everything. I need winter clothes. I have no winter clothes. I'm getting my packages now. I have to pick them up. Something else? I'm so desperate.
Today I spent the whole day in the library doing math as I had planned. Thursday I'm going to Lissol. Tomorrow I'm going with Toby. And I do not know what else to say, so goodbye and record back. This is my second tape and you did not send me any. Be healthy and congratulations to Uncle Teddy and Aunt Betty, of course, and all that, and to Uncle Sydney and Aunt Lil. I do not know, everyone, okay? Will take and everyone is fine.