Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCCI. A Return Visit (16 of 19)

October 30, 31 & November 1

October 30 was a Friday, and for Shabbat dinner, I was invited by aunt Étty and uncle Joseph.  During the morning, I went to buy them flowers, and before going I dressed for the occasion.  The house was suitably decked for Kabbalat (receiving) Shabbat.

Before the meal, uncle Joseph recited the Kiddush; after he was finished, we had a delicious supper of fish, chicken soup, chicken and potatoes, and rice; the repast was accompanied by a very good Israeli wine.

On Saturday, my cousin Joseph came at 10:00 to pick me up.  We were going to visit his daughter and her family.  Despite the passage of time, I recognized his daughter without any problem.  She has a charming family and her husband owns his own business.  While this was meant to be a short visit, we spend over two hours there; they had many questions about Canada and especially about our implacable winters.

When we left, Joseph invited me for lunch (yes, again); I put up a symbolic resistance, but yielded quickly; I wasn`t going to miss an opportunity to enjoy yet again their delicious cuisine.  Before I left, Rosette gave me some basboussa to take home.

[Basboussa is a Greek dessert that has spread to Turkey, North Africa, and throughout the Middle East.  The Greeks call it Revani; in Lebanon the name used is Namoura; in North Africa it is referred to as Harsha or Harrissa.  It is made with semolina; sugar; various dried fruits depending on availability; nuts; flavoring such as cinnamon, cloves, or orange blossom water; and finally, the whole thing is covered with a syrup which is prepared separately.  Regardless how you call it or make it, it is delicious with a cup of tea; if you can find it in your area, by all means, try it, you won’t regret it.  Keep in mind though that it is rather caloric, moderation is therefore recommended.]

I had forgotten that at night I was invited in Lillian’s home; since I only eat one main meal a day, I called to tell her that my meal would consist of light fare; that being the case, she put up a beautiful spread of appetizers:  Cheeses, sardines, yogurt with cucumbers, eggs, cold cuts, falafel, tehina, shamenet, battarech (a kind of caviar, not the expensive one), and other delicious food items; hot pitta bread put the cherry on the cake.  I understand that her family didn’t complain about the change in menu.

I had a surprise waiting for me when I arrived at Lillian.  My cousin Zouki was there.  He is Lillian’s brother and the son of Joseph and Étty.  The name Zouki is unusual, so let me explain:  His actual name is Isaac, Isaac in Arabic is Zaki, in turn Zouki is a nickname for Zaki; and this nickname stuck to him, I rarely remember anybody calling him by any other name.

Zouki, at the time of my visit, lived in Haifa; because he was very busy, I was told that it was unlikely I would get a chance to see him.  But he cleared his schedule, and surprised his Canadian cousin.

The one expression that describes Zouki is “free spirit.”

At a young age, he left Israel, came to Canada, and stayed in my mother’s apartment for a short while.  He was then able to secure work with a relative.  His life in Canada was hard; but as it often happens, a rocky road leads to wisdom.  He left for England, made money, lost it, and made it again.  He visited and (I think) transacted business with other Europeans countries.

He toured most of Europe, and enumerated once for me where he went; I told him that it would have been quicker had he just mentioned the countries he did not see!  Of course, he went beyond Europe, but there I stopped him dead in his tracks, for there was no time for that!

Zouki is a confirmed bachelor; he assured me that he had taken advantage of his status as a single male thanks to money and looks.

We all reach a crossroads in our life when we stop and ask ourselves:  “Was my life well lived and loved?”  No doubt Zouki will answer in the affirmative!

On Sunday (a regular working day in Israel), I took a bus, and went to a bank in downtown Tel Aviv; I wanted to cash in government bonds that I have had with me for many years.  You may remember the mandatory savings in government bonds I mentioned previously; well, now it was time to cash in my chips.  The bank had no problems finding a record of the bonds; after I signed, the teller came back with the royal sum of 13 NIS (New Israeli Shekel) or $6 dollars!  Deduct from that the bus fare …

In the evening, aunt Étty came to visit.  She told me a story that has happened during the Yom Kippur War (in 1973).

Tzion (her son in law) was fighting in this war.  His son Sassi at the time was 11 months old.  One day, in the presence of my aunt, the child suddenly said abba (father).  She was astonished at that and she took note of the day and time.

Later, when Tzion came back, she asked him what he was doing at that time.  He told her that, with his company, he was trying to cross a bridge, when they were shelled upon by the Egyptians.  It was a miracle that he survived.

Comments are closed.