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 – CCLIII. The Language of the Realm (3 of 7)

My first assignment was at the cow shed!  Using mime, the haver in charge, shmuel, tried to explain why I had started in such a lowly position.  I didn`t understand him nor did it mattered; but he would not give up.  He asked me what languages I knew; when he heard Sarfatit (French), his face lit up and he ran to get another person.

The French-speaking haver that joined us clarified the matter:  Shmuel ‘s assistant had to take his sick grandmother to the hospital, and Shmuel found himself alone; he hated to see me start in such a dirty and smelly place.

In turn, I gave a big smile to Shmuel, and nodded my head a few times to indicate that I didn`t mind.

The first task he gave me was to take bales of hay from a tractor and place them near the cow shed.  The bales were very heavy.  I could not even move them.  I looked for the proper tool to cut the cord on the bales.  Finally, armed with a huge pair of scissors, I cut the cord on the bale and moved it in part.  By the second bale, I had a mess, and it dawned on me that the bales were meant to be left intact!

I went to fetch Shmuel; first he had a horrified look on his face; next, when I explained to him through gestures that the bales were too heavy; he laughed, no doubt at the “solution” I used to solve the problem!

The next chore he gave me was to clean the shed.  He did make sure though to supply me with different clothing and a pair of boots.

Shmuel proved to be a real gentleman.  He shook my hand at the end of the shift, and told me toda raba (thank you very much) many times.

When I left, one of the cows emitted a loud mooo; she was soon joined by her sisters; a sure sign that they were satisfied with the work I did!

After lunch, I returned to my bungalow, showered, and stretched on my bed to relax for a few minutes.  This was a fatal mistake!  Next thing I knew, it was 5 o’clock.  I had missed my first Hebrew class!

* *  *

On my second day, I was sent to the kitchen.  The chef was not happy to see me; he went into long explanations as to why he was disappointed.  It was all said in Hebrew; but he was so good in mime, I was able to understand him!   Two members of his staff were sick; he had hoped to get two full-time haverim to help out; instead he was getting a student for half a day.  Lo tov (not good) he repeated numerous times.  He rubbed his stomach many times to indicate that when people are hungry, they want food on their plates, not excuses!  Finally, he put his hand on his heart to make sure I did not take it personally.

My first task was to assist in the preparation of daysa (a kind of Israeli porridge).  The staff member I was helping supposedly spoke French; alas, his French was so bad that by mutual agreement we reverted to Hebrew and gesturing.

How do you make daysa?  I no longer remember.  What I do remember was that it was cooked in a huge vat.  Everything was large scale in the kitchen for you’re cooking for a big crowd.

How do you balance ingredients with spices?  It’s obviously not a haphazard process if you want to cook appetizing meals for the members; and I can vouch for the fact that the food was good.  My stint in the kitchen was far too short to answer this question in a definite manner.  I would guess that spices were premeasured and added to the mix; I remember opening a package and adding the content to the daysa.  (It’s akin to what franchises would prepare for their franchisees).

From 7:00 to 11:00 all went well.  At 11:00 preparation for a cabbage soup started.  On short order, the whole place literally reeked of cabbage.  It was unbearable even if you liked cabbage; but I despise cabbage and all its relatives (such as cauliflower and broccoli).  My supervisor took one look at me and went to fetch the chef.  I assured him that I was not going to get sick, but obviously he was not going to take a chance on me.

I don’t need to tell you that my first day in the kitchen was also my last!

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