The Woman From Another Planet
This morning I snuck into Bank Leumi to sit down and nurse, and while there I saw a woman from a different planet.
The elderly woman sitting in front of me looked like she had just landed from 1950s Morocco and was hopelessly bewildered by the high-tech world of 2015 banking.
“Geveret!” she appealed to a young bank employee passing by, “Why aren’t they calling my number? I’ve been waiting all morning!”
“Savta, you took the wrong number. This is a number from the mortgage section. You need to take a new one for general banking…”
“What? A new one?” It was just too much for her to fathom, so Savta approached a kind-hearted teller (in the photograph) to request assistance.
Meanwhile, I finished nursing, and was walking towards the exit when Savta asked if I would hold her cane. So I stood there, and this what happened next…
“I want to find out how much money is in my account,” Savta asked.
“You have 200 shekels and 50 agorot in your checking account. You know, in the future, you could check out your account balance with your bank card. It would be easier for you.”
“I’ve been asking them and asking them for a bank card for years, and they never send me one!” Savta replied as she fingered her ancient identity card in a worn plastic cover—probably the same one she received at the Haifa port in 1956.
When she was done, with a wad of around 1000 NIS in her hand (her savings account looked better than her checking), I handed her back her cane, and she blessed me with all her heart, “May Hashem bless you and your family with health! Only health!”
“Amen!” I answered the Savta from another planet.
I went straight from 1950s Morocco to 19th century Poland—–a book store in Meah Shearim.
As I walked, among the Yiddish-speaking men rushing to yeshiva and the children ferried by their mothers or older sisters to nursery school and cheider, I noticed the following death notice for a woman named Mrs. Dina Rosenblatt (photo below) which read, “With great sorrow and grief we announce the death of our mother and teacher, our sister, our dear grandmother, whose single aspiration was to raise her offspring to Torah and fear of G-d…”
Wow, I thought. What an awe-inspiring planet Mrs. Dina Rosenblatt lived on. A planet of clarity and faith.
So many savtas from so many planets in this smallest of countries.
Yesterday I was checking out the news, and clicked on the headline “Kim Kardashian arrives in Israel.”
I wasn’t sure who Kim Kardashian is, but I’d heard her name somewhere, and was interested to know who she is and why she is coming to Israel (maybe she’s Jewish?).
The article informed me that Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous celebrities in the world. She has 30 million followers on Twitter and is one of the most highly paid TV stars alive. The funny thing was that the Ynet journalist prefaced this information with the following words: “Unless you have been living on a different planet for the last few years, you know all about Kim Kardashian…”
It’s funny, because I think of myself as relatively with-it. I have a lot of Charedi neighbors who don’t even have e-mail accounts! Scratch that…who don’t even own computers! And here I am, with a computer, with internet access, with a website of my own.
But I guess that journalist is right. Like Savta from the bank, and Mrs. Dina Rosenblatt, I am living on a different planet. And even if you know who Kim Kardashian is, JewishMOM, you are too.
The JewishMOM planet is a parallel reality– revolving around Shabbat and dentist appointments.
Around the holidays and school vacations.
Around mitzvot and homework.
Around holy people and little people (who are holy as well).
And this, I think, is quite a wonderful planet to call home.