In this time of turmoil in the Middle East, we can sometimes lose sight of the deep beauty that pervades the Jewish community in Israel. The following true story helps restore our perspective and illuminates the hope for a peaceful future.
My friend Yehudit P. was telling me about her pre-6:00 A.M. walks early Friday mornings. The quiet is thunderous, the whole atmosphere ethereal. And then, just as the owner is opening up his hole-in-the-wall pita-bread bakery store in the Bukharan market of Jerusalem, Yehudit arrives to buy freshly baked Syrian-style pita (made by throwing the dough against the inside of his hole-in-the-wall oven).
Over the months, Yehudit has come to be impressed by this chubby, bald, Syrian Jew's kindness. Which makes what he said to Yehudit one morning so understandable...
Yehudit had arrived a little late, and so she took her place in line, behind another woman buying pita.
This woman was an old, Bukharan woman, bent with age, wearing a floral-patterned babushka. She seemed to be very dissatisfied with the pita-bread that the Syrian-Jew was offering her.
"No, this one is burnt," she said, handing it back to the baker. "It's not good. I want a different one."
So the man gave her a different one.
After carefully examining it, the woman returned this one, too, commenting, "This one doesn't look well-done enough. Give me another..."
As Yehudit stood in the growing line, awaiting her turn, she marveled at the patience of this simple baker. For it seemed that each time the man handed the old woman a perfectly good, fresh, warm pita-bread, the old woman would carefully examine it, and then hand it back, with some complaint.
As the old woman returned yet another pita to the baker, he finally said to her a bit firmly, "It's okay, ma'am. This one is good. It's a very good one. It's fine, they're all fine."
Convinced, and wrapping her six large pita-breads in a small blanket to keep them warm, the little old lady finally walked away.
Turning to Yehudit, the baker apologized for the delay, and explained, "I feel bad that I got agitated with her. You see, she doesn't pay."
Reprinted with permission from
"ON BUS DRIVERS, DREIDELS AND ORANGE JUICE"
contemporary stories of life in Israel.
Sponsored by Tehilla, the movement for Aliyah - www.tehilla.com
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