Libya The Jews Museum Newsletter Testimonies

    Ada N29 - Page 1/8

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A "maharma" (kerchief) wraps her silver hair, golden earrings in her lobes, and always with a pleasant, radiant smile on her face.

The last to lie down to sleep, the first to arise, in the darkness of night, in the summer and the winter, she wakes up to cover her children. She awakens them in the morning with a song, "Sabah elhair, ulady, kumu." (Good morning, my children, wake up). She works all day, as diligent as an ant, comes and goes, goes and comes, and does not rest for one moment. She prepares breakfast for her children and also the " sandwich" for the study of Torah. And now she parts from her children and does not even sit to rest for a moment; she immediately runs to prepare lunch and clean the house.

This is how she will proceed the rest of the week, with diligence and patience, with love and devotion. And when Shabbat or Holiday approaches, she will stand from morning until night in the kitchen, and, Heaven forbid that she should ask for help, she will prepare the wonderful dishes that to us seem so easy. The "asban" (kishke) and the "kukla" (dumpling), the "nukidis" (noodle) and the "kirsha", the "basin" (a flour pasta-like dish) and "hraime" (spicy fish), the "couscous" and the "mafrum" (stuffed potatos). Each and every dish is a multi-layered project; even the thought of such an extreme endeavor would make a woman of our time give up at once and turn to schnitzel and ready-made chicken. With all the recipes of the world memorized, not even one gets confused with another.

And if by chance you pass by your parents' house, and you inform them of your surprise arrival, you won't surprise them, and you will always find a set table with foods that take hours to prepare (and we are obviously not talking about frozen food, Heaven forbid!) And when you leave the house, like all good Libyan mothers she will follow you out, and won't forget to pour water for a successful journey.

She is the one responsible for the maintenance of the house, cleaning, laundry, clothing, and what not. Have you ever thought about what a full time job this is?


Yehudit Enoshi (Smiyah)-all rights reserved

Diligent and hard working, well bred and consenting,
Compassionate and patient, bashful;
Her home -- her castle, her children -- her wealth;
At night she thinks about old and young,
And in the morning she bounces up early.

Tolerant of problems and stress, from a few greens she makes dinner;
Her hands are gold in toil and soap, and the aroma of her mafrum jumps from the kanun.
Well composed and consenting, the best among the maidens,
Her hair is long and her eyebrow is colored with pencil, her eye shines like the yeast of Ghabes.

Her cheek is like the Italian apple, the odor of her incense reaches me from afar;
In her ear an earring of one gold lira, and her husband will not exchange her for another.
Her zdad is of pure silver , her belt one piece of silver,
And her bracelets are real gold, her slippers of Sudanese leather.
And her walk is that of a youth; I pray to the almighty, inshallah, may he preserve her for me.

And above all, she is the educator, good and loving. She is the one who always leans towards the benefit of the doubt -- strong as a rock, and counterbalancing the authoritative and tough father.

And when the baby is sick, if his stomach hurts, she will rub Arak on it to warm it up; if he has a headache or fever, she will put a slice of potato on his forehead for a speedy recovery. Without being spoiled or lazy she will pamper him and wrap him with "Shurot" (stripes of cloth) so he will blossom and grow with straight legs. And when she feels bad, she won't be able to let herself be sick, a luxury saved only for the children of the rich.

To the question "How are you", she will always answer, "Thank G-d, may He guard us and our kids."

And on Shabbat evening, at candle lighting time and really almost always, she prays to G-d that He guard her husband and children from all troubles and bring upon them lots of blessings and well-wishes.

This is the Libyan mother, who knew easy days and hard days, modern and less modern times, under all conditions, the hard as the easy, she guarded "family purity;" and from these meritorious deeds, to my understanding, there were few were cases of separation and dismantling of Libyan families.

Therefore, to mothers in general, and specifically, my mother, we send many blessings for all that they gave us, and, G-d willing, will continue to give us in the future. May G-d lengthen their days with good and make them pleasant, may they merit seeing grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren, healthy and happy with joy and age.

Benatiah Pedatzur

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