Our Parents' Home
MY TOWN AND MY HOME
My little town! How did they used to make fun of you? Some say used to say "if you rolled a barrel from one end of town, it would roll all the way to the other end." But for that very reason, you were dear to us sevenfold. Who didn't know your Jews? We used to accompany every bride and groom to the wedding canopy, and if, G-d forbid, a tragedy occurred, we all knew how to pay final respects. We knew every little alley. Do you still remember the alley of Motel Glickman? I used to walk through there several times a day, and took a shortcut to the main road to go shopping at the store of my Uncle Iddel (my mother's brother), or of Yechezkel and Rivka, my father's sister. They also used to take the same shortcut to come to our house and warm up next to the oven or sip some hot tea. Due to its "strategic location," our house served as the hub of the family. We lived next to the synagogue, and each Sabbath and festival after services, our relatives used to come for a visit. Probably because we lived in the area it was possible for me to vividly remember festivals and happy occasions in town. I always watched Jews running back and forth to synagogue.
I can mention many experiences. One of them was the following: our front door was located right across from a hill. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the mailman would walk up the hill to hand out holiday greeting cards. No sooner did people see him, then crowds of Jews and their children all congregated around him. Each person anxiously waited hearing his name; when he heard his name, he called out "that's me!" In general, our home served sometimes as a branch for each of us: our friends used to come over, and we loved to sing. My sister, Devorah and brother, Ephraim, knew how to sing very well. We all helped out, and the large choir soon included Mother, whose voice was heard through the small window of kitchen. People used to tell me that my mother was a real pioneer to this very day they tell me that.
I would like to take the opportunity here to devote a few words to all the mothers in town. Jewish mothers! You were able to run your homes under such primitive conditions with such wisdom.
You didn't just push buttons to turn on various electric appliances like we do nowadays. You didn't just turn on the faucet with the water flowing. You didn't just switch on the oven and stove. You never even heard of heating systems and modern refrigerators. Frequently you carried wood on your shoulders to use to heat the oven. You even brought pails of water from the well. You made your bread by hand, since nothing was ready-made, from mushrooms to jam! On Fridays you were busy at the stove until candle-lighting time preparing the Sabbath meals. Unfortunately, you can no longer hear how much we miss Mother's cooking.
I remember Father as a man who was very busy earning a living, and was absent from home most of the time. He had a golden heart, and many people (mostly gentiles) took advantage of him, resulting in the loss of part of his earnings. Nevertheless, even those who enjoyed better luck, and who had some money in their pockets, never knew what it meant to have extra money. It's possible, however, that they enjoyed a quality of life that we don't know about.
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