Monday, September 22, 2014

Thirty-Four Years, Gone but Always in our Hearts.....


Tonight is my father Louis Small [Eliezer David ben Chana v’Yitzchak] HaKohen a"h 34th yartzeit and in his memory I would like to dedicate this blog to him. 

My father left us and this world on September 9th,1980 / 28th Elul 5740.

My dad was a wonderful man. He was a great husband, a super father and a loving grandfather. He was kind. He was good natured and he really cared about the next person. He would give you the shirt off his back, if that was what you needed. 

Our family was the most important part of his life.

My father cared about the community we lived in. He spent countless hours working on fundraisers for the shul [Young Israel of Chomedey] that our community wanted to build.

My father was a food chemist and would love to look at new products on the shelves in grocery stores. 

When my brother and I were children, he was always there for us. No matter the situation. He would do anything for his children.

My dad would speak softly, but directly to us, never down at us. When I had a problem we would go for a walk or a drive in the country and talk all the way. He made every problem seem not so bad.

My dad and I did the dishes together every evening. He would ask me about my day in school. I cherished those few minutes. My dad taught me to work ‘clean’ and always have a clean kitchen.

My daddy would help me with my homework. One time, when I was ten years old, I had a geography project from school. I had to make a scrapbook about each province in Canada and write what it was known for. Now I had weeks to get this project done, but I procrastinated and before I knew it the project was due. I had information only on one province.

It was late at night and I couldn't sleep. I was so worried about the trouble I was in. At ten o'clock in the evening, I finally told my parents my problem. My father was really upset with me, but he told me that he would try and help me out and that I should go to sleep. 

A few minutes later he was out of the house and drove to the train station. Since we lived in Montreal, The Canadian National Railways had a very large station underneath the Queen Elizabeth Hotel that was opened all the time. My father was able to get me great information on every province. 

Five o'clock in the morning, he woke me up and said, "here is your information, now get to work." I worked like I never worked in my life. By eight thirty, when I had to go to school, my project was more than half finished. I told my teacher that I would hand in my project after lunch.

In those days, we came home for lunch. I finished my project while munching on a sandwich. I couldn't believe it. My project was completed. I thanked my father a million times for getting me the information that I needed. I promised him that I would never procrastinate again. To this very day, I never procrastinate.

And when I was a Kallah, just before the badeken my dad asked me if I was sure Brahm was the man I wanted to spend my life with. When I told him I was sure, he and my mother made us a real prince and princess wedding.

I still remember when Brahm called my dad in the middle of the night to say I was in labour and that he had to take me to the hospital because he [Braham] was too nervous to drive. And when Naomi, their first grandchild was born, my dad was the proudest Zeidi in the world.   

Daddy, even though so many years have passed, I remember our last days together, as if it were just today. It was Moetzi Shabbos, the night of Selichot. For some reason I just felt the need to cook for Yom Tov. I went to Selichot, and when I came home I just couldn't go to bed, so I cooked all night. 

Eight o'clock Sunday morning Mommy called and said that you had a heart attack during the night and that I should come to Montreal. I told her I would get the next flight out. I then understood what I was feeling all night. By Sunday afternoon, I was at your bedside. Yitzchak arrived from Detroit a couple of hours later. We spent as much time as the hospital would allow us to visit with you and talk to your doctors. 

Tuesday morning you told Mommy that you wanted to speak to each of us alone. You somehow knew you were dying, but you didn't say so. You told me to go home and be with my family for Yom Tov. Yom Tov was Wednesday night. When I protested that my family was in good hands, you told me not to argue, and that I could come back after Yom Tov. What I didn't realize was that you were saying good-bye.

With a heavy heart, Yitzchak and I returned to our respective homes. From Montreal to Hamilton the flight is a little over an hour. I arrived in Hamilton in time to go and pick up the girls from school.

As we entered the hall of our apartment building, I could hear the phone ringing. It was Mommy, saying that you had just passed away. Two hours later, Yitzchak and I were on our way back to Montreal.
Your funeral was the next day, Erev Rosh Hashana. 

We sat shiva for 1 hour and in that hour I heard so many stories from people I didn't know about your generosity and how you quietly helped so many people. 

Daddy, I know you and Mommy are watching over us from above. I want you both to know that your grandchildren have grown up to be wonderful parents. Baruch Hashem, you have over forty plus great-grandchildren.  

We love you and miss you! 

I would like to wish everyone L’Shana Tovah. May this new year be a year full of brachot, good health, happiness and nachas.
G’Mar Chatima Tova

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Summer not to Forget...............

Looking at the calendar, I see that we are almost at the end of the secular month of August and the Jewish month of Av.  September 1th and Rosh Chodesh Elul will soon be upon us.

Where did the summer go?  Back tracking to May, my husband and I planned the summer projects we wanted to do.  Paint the outside alcove of our house. Work in the yard. Paint the metal bars of our sukkah frame.  And in general finish up small projects that we started but never completed.

I had friends who wanted to come and visit with me, spend the day roaming Netivot and going to the Baba Sali. Didn’t happen, much too dangerous.

Would you like to know how much we accomplished during the summer? Zero, zlitch and why you ask….because Hamas decided to ruin our summer and everyone else’s summer by firing rockets at us. Pretty hard to work outside when you have only 15 seconds to get to safety.

What can you do in 15 seconds? Not so much but believe me, I’m not complaining…..those who live around the Gaza belt have 7 seconds to seek safety.

Our Regional Council [Moetz] in Sdot Negev helped make the summer vacation somewhat pleasant for the children.  They organized and subsidized many field trips: to the zoo in Jerusalem, hands on children’s museum in Tel Aviv and a variety of other programs.

In my family we had the additional worry of a grandson chayal, serving in a tank unit in Gaza. And just before one of the many ceasefires, we had another grandson mulliumnik called up on a Tzav 8 [emergency call up].

Two weeks ago, I believe, we were in the middle of one of our ceasefires. My husband and I took advantage of the quiet and went to Netivot to do some shopping.  The southern businesses have really suffered during the war. The streets have been deserted and the stores had no customers. On this day, Netivot was alive. The traffic was heavy, shopping center parking lots full and people were out enjoying the quiet. Teens were hanging out at falafel stores and the outside cafes were busy.  It was just wonderful to see.

Netivot is a great city, it is so sad to see how it has suffered.  I posted about our shopping trip and I had several interesting comments on the same theme ‘Don’t get use to it….rockets are coming’. 

I replied with this comment on my Facebook status:

I have been reading different postings from people who live all over the country. I have come to the conclusion that the residents of the south see the ceasefire in a different light. This ceasefire is a breather for us. The people are out doing everyday things. Children are playing outside. Stores are busy. Traffic is heavy. Parking lots are full. Teens are hanging out. Whether or not the ceasefire holds is another question, but for now it is good and positive.

As everyone knows, the ceasefire didn’t hold and 24 hours after it expired another ceasefire was called. And once again last Tuesday Hamas fired rockets, this time to Beer Sheva and the ceasefire was broken. Since Tuesday, over 200 rockets have been fired at Israel.

This past Erev Shabbat our yishuv in the south was the recipients of 3 Grad missiles within a 2 hour span. 

Today we are in our 48th day of this round of terror and war. This is the longest war our country has known except for the war of Independence, which we are still fighting.

Our IDF and IAF have done a marvelous job defending our nation with pride. Our chayalim and chayalot are the best. May Hashem continue to watch over our army and may Hashem give our leaders the ability to make the right choices to bring security and quiet to our nation.

That’s all for now
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Want an Experience...Go Shopping at the Shuk......

As I have written many times my family and I live in the Negev. One of the cities in the Negev is Netivot. Now if this name sounds sort of familiar to you, it is because Netivot has been the recipient of many Grad missiles fired by Hamas. Netivot is 9km [about 5 and 1/2 miles] from Gaza.

In Netivot, like many other cities in Israel, one or two days a week is shuk day.

Tuesday is shuk day in Netivot.  In Hebrew, shuk means “marketplace.” For hundreds of years, Jews from all over the world have vended and shopped in marketplaces. Merchants would travel by ship to sell their spices, fine perfume, material etc. My ancestors going back to the early 1700’s traveled by ship from Spain to Romania, where they eventually settled, selling all their wares along the way.

In biblical times, Avraham Avinu, met with caravan merchants on the very land where Netivot and the surrounding moshavim and yishuv stands today.
Every Tuesday, merchants and farmers from the moshavim and kibbutzim in the area set up their wares, fruits and vegetables in the open air market. You can buy almost anything in the shuk from fruits and vegetables, clothes, toys, Judaic, cheap costume jewelry, paper products, plastic ware and there is always a surprise or two.

The shuk in Netivot is on a large piece of land in the industrial area. Shopper’s crowd onto the bus with their shopping wagons and hand held baskets.  Young mothers with babies in carriages and a toddler or two trailing behind are a common sight. Everyone is going to the shuk to look for bargains. And if you are patient and have the time to really look carefully, you will find the bargains.

But you need patience when you arrive at the shuk. The traffic on the street of the shuk and around the entrance is always crazy. Early bird shoppers block the entrance putting their purchases in the trunk of taxis. Bus drivers honk their horns wanting to pass. Venders are unloading produce and merchandise and security is checking each car as they drive into the parking lot.

As you walk into the shuk, you are entering a very interesting and entertaining place to shop. The noise level is very loud. Vendors are hocking their produce and wares.  Knowing how to bargain is part of the game. The secret is knowing prices and know how much you are willing to pay.

After you ask the vendor how much, he / she will usually give you a high price, figuring you are going to bargain.  I usually say too expensive and walk away. The vendor will call you back “gaverette, gaverette[literally Mrs.]   and give you another price. If it is a fair price, you buy, if not, say no and as you leave he will say how much. Give your price [it has to be fair, no cheating allowed] and in most cases you have a deal.

The moshavim and kibbutzim in the areas have a bus that takes its residents for an “outing” to the shuk. The older women love to meet and smooze. For many, it’s their only time away from home.

As I started this blog, I told you that Netivot has had many rockets fired at it citizens. Because of this, Pikud Oref, Israel’s Home Front Command, has ordered that the shuk be closed during the war. It is just too dangerous. Shuks, in other southern cities have also been closed.

Many vendors travel from city to city, setting up their wares.  With the shuks closed, the vendors are suffering. Their income has been taken away because of rockets.

If you are visiting Israel, the famous  Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem and Carmel Market in Tel Aviv are a stop for every tourist.

No matter if you are a native Israeli or a tourist, if you have never shopped in 
the shuk, you owe yourself the experience.

Happy shopping!

Postscript. One of the farmer families that sell their produce in the shuk lives in my yishuv. They decided that since the people can’t come to the shuk, the
shuk will come to them.  Every Tuesday they have set up a veggie shuk 
on the lawn outside of their home. Many residents come to buy and 
appreciated their efforts.

That’s all for now.
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