Happy Jewish New Year 5781.

It takes one hour and thirty six minutes to travel twenty miles from Crawley to our local Waitrose.
Every Friday, come rain or shine, Anna makes that journey to stand outside the back doors of Waitrose – used to be the front doors but Covid closed them – and wearing her headscarf and an engaging smile, she sells ‘Big Issue’ magazines. Some people give the basic three pounds, others more. Some bring gifts of household necessities, or personal toiletries from soap to shampoo. Everybody knows her name many talk to her. Anna is a symbol of tenacity, courage, Eastern European grit and deep gratitude. She has two children which she leaves at home whilst she makes the long journey from Crawley. Her job, to feed her family, is to sit patiently outside the supermarket. Benni, the security guard from Kosovo who counts the punters going in, has given Anna a chair.
Anna never complains even though she has plenty to complain about. She tells me life is hard, and even harder with the onset of Corona, she sells less issues as many of her regulars’ are unemployed their income decimated by the virus. I have a shameful etiquette when talking with Anna; eye to eye when I know I’m giving her money. Staring at the ground when I know I’m going to pay her but haven’t got any immediate cash on me or looking into the middle distance avoiding her gaze, when I’ve forgotten to go to the hole in the wall.
I really like Anna, she reminds me that life goes on, that being a victim is not an option and that humility is one of the most gracious of attributes.
As unemployment rises and the job market shrinks to four hundred job applications for one cleaning job, as Xenophobia infects swathes of natives, and as a second wave of Covid threatens, what’s going to happen to Anna and her kids? ‘Big Issue’ leads with a story about the true cost of hygiene, saying that for many washing hands and faces is a privilege. My eldest stepdaughter would wave that privilege in a heartbeat. She has severe OCD. I’m sure many people know somebody who knows somebody who has the silent killer. My daughter has been isolated in her flat since March, having to wash her hands and face all the time is just about as bad as it gets.
The virus has wreaked havoc, and damn those pesky testing kits. Allegedly millions of pounds spent on shipping them in from China only to find they didn’t work. Good old Dame Dido Hardheart couldn’t give a monkeys. She has single handedly manifested the ‘Peters Principal – Rising to the Level of her own Incompetence.’ Incompetence covering more incompetence, incompetent actions masking incompetent decisions, incompetent claims and incompetent evasions.
Bumbling Boris mouthing empty platitudes, the sycophantic Gove waffling his cover ups, the abomination that is the Pricki Patel forgetting her own identity in the rush for political status. The shit is so going to hit the fan when the Brexit boil bursts and Boris has to cancel Christmas.
I wonder whether this cycle of misery isn’t long overdue, inevitable in the scheme of humanity?
When my mother made her famous chicken soup she would stand over the saucepan, the whole kosher chicken immersed in water, when the water started to boil the scum came to the surface. My mother using a big metal spoon would ‘shah’ it off, my mothers word. I’ve got the very spoon in my kitchen drawer and I use it for shahhing my soup. Adding more cold water my mother would wait for the bubbles and scum to resurface and skim it again. Over and over until not a speck of fat was left. You needed some schmaltz though, after all the Gentiles spread dripping on their bread so we Jews spread schmaltz on our cholla.
P’raps that’s what’s happening in society the old way is bubbling to the surface and the grubby, nasty bits have to be shahhed off. We need to take the big metal spoon of sanity and justice and skim off the unwanted shit. Shahhing and skimming until the broth is clear and golden. Discarding the impurities to let the unctuous penicillin sooth the soul.
This weekend we should have been celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Over 60 of us gathering in the house and garden for the annual ‘Jew Do’. Friends, pets, relatives and neighbours arriving with food and drink. A good deal of hugging and kissing, talking and eating. Noise and merriment. An annual gathering of our ‘framily’. 2020 has bowled us a googley, but we won’t be beaten. Like Anna we’ll patiently take our seat and sit it out.
Shona Tava. Happy New Year.

2 thoughts on “Happy Jewish New Year 5781.”

  1. Jeni dear. I’m still reading your wonderful blogs and making sure you are still your usual bubbly self! I too would like to wish you a Shana Tova and a healthy year indeed. May this invisible intruder leave us all once and for all! Who would have believed that a time would come where we can’t just socialise without a care in the world and join together for special occasions like Rosh Hashana!! How absolutely weird! Let’s hope it all just fades away and life will return to normal. But there are some lessons to be learnt here that even in this period of advanced technology we are not in control of our fate. There is a greater Being in charge and we just need to pray that the virus disappears before it causes further damage to the world as a whole.
    Virtual hugs and kisses Jeni with all my love xxx
    I still think back to the days you had a daily show. I still miss it!!

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