-- Chapter from A Gift Passed Along -- Chapter Fifteen: Remembering Bracha Chapter from A Gift Passed Along -- Chapter Fifteen: Remembering Bracha
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  Chapter Fifteen: Remembering Bracha from
A Gift Passed Along
A woman looks at the world around her

By Sarah Shapiro 

Other Available Chapters
Chapter Three: A Handicapped Look at Disability 
Chapter Twenty-seven: Why Is This Child Different? 

Chapter Fifteen: Remembering Bracha

One night I called Bracha to get an idea for dinner.

“Oh, I have a delicious recipe and it’s 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! They’ll love it.”

I did as Bracha said, and it was much easier than pie. Not only that. They ate it.

It wasn’t that I’d never made that dish before, but I think Bracha’s 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 house.”

Another factor in the intense pleasure she took in cooking and housekeeping was the dignity and significance she accorded those activities. “I’ve always made three meals a day,” she once told me with obvious pride and satisfaction. “And I don’t mean open a can, come and get it. I’m 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, that’s what’s important in this world. That’s what you really have, and even them you don’t have. Nothing belongs to you, not even yourself. The only thing that belongs to you forever is your emunah. There’s nothing else. If you don’t have emunah, then it doesn’t matter what you have -- husband, house, family, friends, accomplishments -- you have nothing. And if you do have it, it doesn’t matter what you’re 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,” she’d say, “what’s 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 o’clock 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. “You’re making lunch. And waiting for the children to come home from school. Isn’t that nice.”

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 doesn’t last forever.”

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