Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A negotiated settlement

We’ve all been there.

Of course, by “we”, I mean “parents of Israeli kids”, and by “there”, I mean “the Call”.

The Call arrives, with alarming regularity, on every Erev Shabbat Irgun, but it also can – and often does – happen on random Fridays throughout the year.

Basically, it works like this:

Some twenty minutes before candle lighting, the phone rings.

You have a telephone!” one of your darling Heblish-speaking children inevitably yells across the house at his/her sibling.

It’s the madrich/ah, calling to say that they’re having a communal seudah shlishit in the snif (literally, chapter or branch – but also refers to the physical structure where the youth group meets) and that your child needs to bring [an obscure item, which you rarely buy anyway but certainly don’t have available this close to Shabbat].

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when this past Erev Shabbat Irgun, the Call came at noon.

As the madrich pointed out, our local makolet (neighborhood grocery store) is still open at that time.

He mentioned this interesting fact, you see, because he had wanted ACSC (=a certain Shiputzim child) to bring chummus, but I had replied that we didn’t have any extra on hand.

Back when I was a brand new olah, I would’ve meekly accepted the harsh decree and headed off to the makolet at what is always the busiest and craziest time of the week.

Now, however, a dozen-plus years after our aliyah, I know that nothing is set in stone.

After all, this is the Middle East, where bargaining is a time-honored tradition.

And so, here’s how it went:

Me: {opens pantry and notices a few cans of pickles} Can we bring pickles instead?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Madrich: {hesitates} I think someone is bringing that already. {thinks for a minute} But we do still need pitot. Is that an option?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Me: {opens freezer and notices a large bag of pitot} Yes! How many do you want?

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Madrich: Ten.

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}

Me: No problem.

ACSC: {dutifully relays the message}


How do YOU handle “the Call”?


  1. You handled that very well. There is more than one possible moral to this story:
    1) you don't have to agree to everything
    2)always keep pitas in the freezer (so long as Pesach is still somewhat distant)
    3)the best negotiations end in a win-win solution -- in which no one side feels s/he had to give up for the sake of the other.

  2. "bargaining is a time-honored tradition" - on my first trip to Israel, I didn't buy much (nothing in the shuk) because of fear of needing to bargain. On my second trip, my friend who had made Aliyah told me - you can bargain. I probably copped out of it anyway.

    You are good at this.

  3. my kids know that i will not deal with requests for food on friday, i mean its not like its a secret when its going to be shabbat. if we have it and i dont need it, fine. if we dont have it and the child is willing to go to the makolet, fine. if not, they do the bargaining, i try to have pickles and corn on hand for these purposes. i am also willing for a kid to cook in the kitchen if im told in advance.
    now how do you deal with the bbque/poika issue?

  4. Oh this post is SO true. But chummous is actually an easy one. The problem is with kids who are madrichim in snifei chutz, who realize at 3 PM on Friday afternoon that they need to eat for Shabbos and expect me to cook up a pot of chicken for them...

  5. Ariella - We almost always have pitot in the freezer, and *especially* as Pesach draws near. They make a lot less crumbs than bread... :-)

    Leora - Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    Batya - Thanks. That's a real compliment coming from you!

    Faith/Emuna - "it's not like it's a secret when it's going to be shabbat." - LOL! And good question about the poikeh issue... :-)

    Malke - On the way to the wedding three weeks ago, the conversation quickly veered to "What Everyone Is Cooking For Shabbat Irgun". For instance, one mother said that she spent the day making schnitzel. Although none of her kids had asked her for any Shabbat food yet, she knew that it was just a matter of time... :-)

  6. nicely played mama. nicely played, indeed! :)

  7. 1.This year I nagged to find out (on thursday) what we had to bring, finally the madrich said to me on Friday lunch time "I phoned you yesterday to tell you what to bring (He could have called my cell phone), and now I can't remember what it was, let him bring what he wants!"

    So I gave up trying to find up what he had to bring, and sent 2 bottles of drink.

    My kids have a standing order to negociate to bring easy things, and I always try to remind my children who are madrichim to send the list out early.

    What about the "bayit reyk". do you have that, when the parents go away and a child is home alone, and he invites his friends to eat with him, and everyone must bring something?

    This time on Friday night my son said poor x is at home with nothing to eat tomorrow, we all have to go to eat with him and to bring the left overs from Friday night!

  8. Galit - The key is to stay one step ahead at all times... :-)

    Keren - The first time that came up, I naively asked, "Wouldn't it make more sense for X to come eat here with us?" {hangs head in shame} Yes, I know. I know. I am SUCH an American... :-)


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