These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Yom Iyun shel Chesed 2016: Adopt a Savta

Posted on February 3, 2016 by Nathaniel Jhirad

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For my volunteering project at Pardes, I participate in the Adopt-a-Savta program. This means, that for several hours a week, I visit my adopted Israeli Savta (grandmother). A few weeks ago, Savta celebrated her 90th birthday. To paraphrase Savta, it was really others who wanted to celebrate her birthday. The celebrations included a few small events spanning the preceding week. I was present at two of those celebrations, which included kiddush at the Beit Kenesset on Shabbat and a smaller celebration at home with her daughters and sons – in law and seasonal Sufganiyot – albeit, a few days before Chanukah itself.

Visiting Savta for a couple of hours each week has been enjoyable for us both and something we look forward to. The theme of my visits is always a few games of Rummi. Dr. Wikipedia states, “Rummi is a group of matching card games notable for similar gameplay based on matching cards of the same rank or sequence and same suit.” Further, it goes on to categorize Rummi as “a game for all ages.”

While most of our time is spent playing Rummi, I cannot ignore the hurdles of our interactions.

Language: Savta is a survivor of the Shoah, and she hails from Romania. The only two languages she speaks are Romanian and Hebrew. At least it helps to know a little Hebrew. My Romanian is a far away dream.

The Television: The TV is perennially switched on, tuned to a certain news channel. Savta does not pay attention to the news.

Tea and snacks: As a volunteer, you would think that I’m lucky to be subject to tea and snacks but the situation is a little tacky when Savta’s coaxing to eat cake and snacks comes post the DSB community lunch! Savta won’t buy the “I do not eat oil or sugar” argument, because Apropos seemingly does not have any of those, and if you do not eat oil or sugar, then, “what will you eat?”

Studying in Israel for a gap year: “Have you come here to spend all the money you earned last year?”

Pitifully enough, I did not grow up on card games. Learning to play Rummy from Savta means that she feels proud of me because she has been able to teach me something new. I am proud of this as well.

This post is in honor of Yom Iyun shel Chessed, in honor of slain Pardes students, Ben and Marla z”l.

Nathaniel Jhirad