One night I called Bracha to get an idea for dinner.
Oh, I have a delicious recipe and its easy as pie.
Dice up some onions and peppers. (She might have also said tomatoes.)
Saute it in a frying pan and then scramble it up with some eggs and
ummmm! Theyll love it.
I did as Bracha said, and it was much easier than pie. Not only
that. They ate it.
It wasnt that Id never made that dish before, but I
think Brachas confidence in its scrumptiousness must have affected the
way I served it, and probably even the way I cooked it.
A lot of her confidence in the kitchen came from the fact that
Bracha just loved cooking. Once, during one of her recovery periods following
chemotherapy, she asked my father for advice about how to get her strength
back. He said it was very important to do something she loved doing every day,
and she said, What I love most of all is cooking and keeping
Another factor in the intense pleasure she took in cooking and
housekeeping was the dignity and significance she accorded those activities.
Ive always made three meals a day, she once told me with
obvious pride and satisfaction. And I dont mean open a can, come
and get it. Im talking about first course, second course. Salad, a
protein, two vegetables. Dessert. And as important as the food itself is the
way it looks on the table. Put down mats or a tablecloth. Fold up the napkins.
Make it pretty. It takes just a few minutes but what a difference it makes! It
makes the food taste better.
In the same vein, she once said, Make being in your home
as nice as possible. Make it nice. Make it pleasant. Your family, your
children, thats whats important in this world. Thats what you
really have, and even them you dont have. Nothing belongs to you, not
even yourself. The only thing that belongs to you forever is your
emunah. Theres nothing else. If you dont have emunah,
then it doesnt matter what you have -- husband, house, family, friends,
accomplishments -- you have nothing. And if you do have it, it doesnt
matter what youre lacking -- you have everything.
A neighbor who occasionally borrowed things from her recalls
that whether it was 50 shekels or a cup of flour, Bracha seemed happy
each time she was asked to lend something. Look, shed say,
whats mine is yours.
One of the things that we, her neighbors and many friends, loved
about her -- and love still -- was the way she was always simply
herself, without pretense or falseness. Her reactions to life were often
unpredictable but always totally in character. One particular memory that keeps
coming back to me is the time she called up a little after 1 oclock and
asked what I was doing. Feeling bored and depressed, I said I was just making
lunch and waiting for the children to come home from school.
How nice. She sighed fondly. Youre
making lunch. And waiting for the children to come home from school. Isnt
How much pleasure Bracha took in having energy and mobility --
the ability to do. As I go about my various life chores, I try to bear
in mind how one woman treasured the privilege of standing before a stove,
sweeping a floor, taking out the garbage, putting in a load of laundry, folding
towels, serving a meal, cleaning up afterwards.
As she used to say, Enjoy it, mammele, it
doesnt last forever.