Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bene-Brak (I)

Bene-Brak is a religious town with people going around dressed as in an old Polish town at the time of free-for-all pogroms. It is not the place I would go for anything but traditional objects but this is the place my sister has chosen to go shopping for toys. My nephew is celebrating his 4th birthday and we're in town to buy toys for about 30 kids between 2 and 5 years old. She figured that we could find more toys in a religious town teeming with kids...

We're walking past the vegetable stand when I notice an old woman going though what seems to be the garbage. I realize quickly that it is not. It is a large cardboard box of all the discarded fruits and vegetables that the owner has put on the side for indigents. Anything he cannot sell, he is letting the poor have for free. I think of the story of Ruth and the timeless practice of letting grain in a field for gleaners when I hear my sister saying "I've never seen this here!" I turned around to see that she is pointing to an old man sleeping on the opposite sidewalk. She is shocked and tells me that she will mention it to someone she knows in town. "How can they leave someone sleep on the street here?". There are homeless in Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem, but Bene-Brak? This is a religious town. She is still talking about the old man as we enter the toy store. I forget to tell her about the old woman.


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