SHORT JOTTINGS

These short jottings are in a random order

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Unfortunately in many Shuls, some of those present feel that the Shul is a place for conversation rather than for davening. Asking them to stop talking, invariably does not work. My father however had an excellent way to stop these people talking. He would say “I hope that my davening does not disturb your conversation”!

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Glatt kosher meat is imported into Israel from abroad. One year, we saw that the meat being sold for Pesach was not stamped “Kasher lePesach”. I telephoned the Chief Rabbinate and they informed me that it was Kasher lePesach the entire year. However, later that year when buying this same meat for Sukkot, we saw that it was stamped – yes, you don’t have to guess – “Kasher lePesach”!

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When my younger brother had just learned to read, my mother took him shopping. At the payout desk there was a sign written in large letters “CASHIER”. My brother, on seeing this sign called out in a loud voice, “They are not Jewish – why have they got a Kosher department?”

PHOTOGRAPHS
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Whilst living in Edgware, there was an occasion when there was a problem to receive shomered milk. Dayan Morris Swift of the London Beth Din also lived in Edgware and he related to us that the milkman thought that for milk to be shomered, the Rabbi had to bless it. He therefore went to the Dayan and said “You are a Rabbi. Will you bless the milk?!”

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I ordered a made to measure shaatnez-free suit from the tailoring chain Burton but when it arrived it still needed some minor alterations. The non-Jewish salesman in the shop told me to meanwhile wear it and bring it back after the “Black Fast”. No - the “Black Fast” he was referring to was not Tisha b’Av but Yom Kippur!

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When my mother lived in Israel, her spoken Hebrew was almost non-existent. One morning, a relative of hers who lived nearby asked her to buy the cereal called “Boker Tov”. In Hebrew, “boker tov” means “good morning”. She went into the supermarket and said “Boker Tov”, her intention being where in the supermarket is this cereal called “Boker Tov” to be found? They naturally replied “boker tov”. Again she said “boker tov” and this went on several times. However, after she had explained in Yiddish, which she spoke fluently, that it is something eaten at breakfast, the supermarket staff finally realized what she wanted.

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My mother invariably celebrated the Seder each year with my immediate family. It became a tradition that after the children had sung Ma Nishtanah, my mother would ask the Ma Nishtanah in Yiddish, in the same way as she had done when she was a little girl.

DOCUMENT
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When she was aged 98, my mother was hospitalized. The family took it in turns that there would always be someone with her at the hospital. When one morning I arrived to take over from my niece, I saw that she was not in her bed. My niece told me that she had got up to tell off the staff for leaving her bed in a disgusting state. I replied, “This means she has recovered”!

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In the Edgware Synagogue, almost every worshipper who attended on weekdays was a mourner who went there to say kaddish. My father was one of the few exceptions. One day one of the worshippers came to my father and said that he was now finishing the saying of kaddish, so what should he do. My father immediately answered him that he should continue coming to Shul!

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Televisions in the 1940s were in their infancy and I had never seen one. One day, someone invited me to their house to see a certain children’s programme. I was not able to come for a while and so I said to them “Tell the television to wait!”

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Today it is universally accepted that one votes at the age of 18. This was not so when I was 18. The voting age was then 21 in Britain, but even if you were 21 you could not vote until they had updated the voting register. It therefore happened that although I was 21 and a half and an election in England took place, I was still disenfranchised!

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On the evening of one Purim, my wife took the fish and the meat out of the freezer so that it could thaw out overnight. On the morning of Purim, we heard a noise in the kitchen. Some cats had somehow got in and were have a wonderful seudat Purim with fish and meat. If one could keep the mitzvah of mishloach manot by giving the food to a cat, we would have already observed this mitzvah!

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I sometimes try and employ my young grandchildren who live in Kiryat Arba to help with the Pesach cleaning. They are satisfied with much less than the minimum wage. One year after arranging to employ them, they were not available at the times I required them. I therefore had to give them “unemployment pay”!

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Towards the end of 1967, I rented a small apartment for just under a year in Ramat Amidar, which is on the border with Bnei Brak. The landlord was a Yemenite Jew and when I went to his apartment to arrange things, he offered me an almost full glass of arak. I had never drunk it before and with a great effort quickly managed to drink it. I certainly did not like the taste! Seeing that I had drunk it, he refilled my glass and I had to drink a further glass. Arak - Never again!

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Every year immediately before Pesach, we paint the kitchen. It is always done in white. However, one year we decided to use green paint. I won’t describe the result, but from then onwards - it was always white!

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Towards the end of 1978 I contracted jaundice, and I carefully avoided foods with a high fat content. Since my illness persisted, I was hospitalized. The first item of food I was offered in the hospital was shamenet! I reminded the nurse that I had jaundice and should I therefore avoid such foods? The nurse replied that are different opinions on this question.

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Unlike today, when I was about 20 years old, learning to drive a car was not yet the norm. However, I took out a provisional driving license but that is as far as it went, I never went behind the steering wheel – and this is still so to this very day!

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There was a boy in my class at primary school whose mother was Jewish and his father Christian. The boy called himself “Half-Jewish”- (of course this is not so – he is completely Jewish!). What did this boy do? He went to Cheder and to Christian Scripture classes!

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At weddings today, an endless number of photographs are taken including of course a video film, but the food is usually limited to a buffet and a dinner. When my parents got married in 1933, it was the opposite. Very few photographs were taken – needless to say, there was no video – but the food consisted of a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner with light refreshments being served before, after and between these various meals!

PHOTOGRAPHS AND DOCUMENT
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My mother related to me that when her Uncle Hyman came on a visit to our house, he requested a Siddur – possibly it was to daven Minchah. She thought it would not be polite to give him a well used Siddur and so she gave him one which was in brand new condition. He looked at it and said that this was not a Siddur – (because a Siddur needs to be actively used and should therefore not be a brand new condition). She then gave him a well used one and he commented that “this is a Siddur”!

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My uncle and aunt celebrated their diamond wedding and on such an occasion in Britain, one receives a signed letter from the Queen. For the occasion, I designed an original greeting card. I photographed their wedding picture, wrote “60 years later” and underneath wrote Mazel Tov and the names of my immediate family.

DOCUMENTS
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In England almost every Jew joins a burial society, usually via Synagogue membership. This is done in order to avoid one’s relatives having to pay an astronomical sum for Jewish burial when one dies. When I first went to Israel, one of the first things I did was to tell my relative there that I wanted to join a burial society. He answered that I was Israel and one gets a Jewish burial without joining any society!

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An aunt of mine was the senior secretary in a large company. When it was the norm to have ordinary typewriters, she had an electric one and that was considered something! But times change, and when she came to visit me in Israel at the end of the 1980s, (well after she had retired), she saw my computer – probably the first time in her life that she had seen one. She looked at it and asked “where is the paper?!”

PHOTOGRAPH
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A great aunt of mine had a grocer shop. In those days (the 1940s), such shops had large sacks of dried beans, peas etc. My mother told that when I was small, we went to visit her and she told me I could play with the “bubelach” (the various sacks of beans). Apparently I had the time of my life and mixed up the contents of the various sacks!

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On one occasion I had to fly on a non-Jewish airline from Israel to Switzerland. I had an ordinary ticket but presumably because of overbooking, I was seated in the first class. What luxury! But there was also a downside. Because of this transfer, they forgot to take on board the kosher meal I had ordered, and so I had to starve on that journey.

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My father who was an accountant, also had a small insurance company, to help mainly his clients and his family. He had a very good motto which was printed at the bottom of the company’s notepaper, “Today’s accident is not covered by tomorrow’s insurance.”

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Once in London, I was travelling in a car. Next to me was seated an elderly man who I did not know. Somehow, during a conversation with him, I said that I heard that a certain Rabbi had gone on Aliyah after his retirement, He pointed to himself and said that he was that Rabbi, adding jokingly that it is good that I don’t talk lashon hara, otherwise I might have said that “this Rabbi is a big fool”!

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Although it is the norm for children to have their first tooth well before their first birthday, I was an exception to this rule. Three of my daughters followed in my footsteps and I established a “Toothless One Club”. When I once had a tooth capped, the dentist had to make a plaster cast of my teeth, and on this plaster cast I wrote my name and the names of my three “toothless one” daughters. My youngest daughter was almost 14 months before she had her first tooth and she was therefore made the President of this club.

PHOTOGRAPH
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