Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Early Morning Pulse of the Market

W e had run out of bread and I elected to run down to the store this morning to pick up a loaf so the kids' school lunches could be prepared. The mom and pop store is a different place at 6:30 AM: peaceful and calm. A few men have dropped in to pick up some staples on their way home from the morning prayers. Two small boys are picking up loaves of bread and soft white cheese for their breakfasts.

A bearded customer in a sparkling white shirt bestows on the proprietor, who was setting out loaves of fresh warm bread on wooden shelves, tidings and blessings for the new Jewish month of Tammuz while another customer practiced a phrase from an Israeli folk song: "But on the banks of the Jordan it's as though not a thing had changed."

All of us ended up in line at the cash register around the same time.

The singer said to the blesser, "I will be going overseas next week, to Hungary. There's some kind of festival."

"Overseas? Aren't you frightened?"

"Some people say I should remove my skullcap, but I refuse. Shall I be ashamed to be a Jew? Ani 'Yehudi Mitgaeh!' (I am a proud Jew!)"