The Corona Chronicles – A Nostalgia Trip

Today is a double anniversary. Forty-seven years ago today, on the 29th of July 1974, I came on aliyah – that is to say, I came home to Israel.
Thirty-two years later, on the 29th of July 2006, I started this blog. In other words, this is my 15th “blogoversary” 🙂 .

Some of you have been with me almost from the beginning. Others have started following this blog more recently, having arrived via my Cat blog (perhaps I should have said “my cats’ blog 😉 – as everyone who lives with cats knows who’s the real Boss).

We were a family in trauma then, still processing the untimely death of my mother, from cancer, the previous year. And we had come to a country also in trauma, still reeling in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, less than a year before.

In the years since, I have come to realise that the sense of trauma is more or less permanent. It merely changes form and immediate cause. Our People have been in a state of trauma since the destruction of the Second Temple and the resulting two thousand year loss of sovereignty over our homeland and our fate. The State of Israel rose like a phoenix from the ashes, but it, too, was born in trauma – the trauma of the Holocaust – and it has been living in trauma ever since, even though we have become so used to it that it has acquired a sense of normality.

Israel today is very different, in many ways, from the country I made my home in 1974. People in those days weren’t so materialistic, for one thing. There was far less to be materialistic about! Nowadays, everyone wants the latest smartphone and each family member has one. Back then, not every household had even a landline. I remember we had waited months for ours, and in the meantime, we had to walk out to the phone box on the main road if we wanted to make a call. Many households that did have a phone had to make do with a party line.

I remember there were basically only two types of bread available at the local makolet (מכולת – grocery shop) – white bread and “black” bread (which was merely a slightly darker white). I think the latter was made with whole-wheat flour. Both were much tastier than the stodgy white, square, packaged bread we used to buy in British supermarkets, which was really only good for making perfect triangular sandwiches, or toast. The price was strictly controlled by the government – and the grocery shop owner (even the supermarket) was happy to sell half loaves. Eggs were sold in cartons of twelve – but if you had no need for that many eggs, you could buy half a dozen, or even less. Milk was sold in plastic bags containing a litre or half a litre, and in order to pour it out, you had to buy a specially designed plastic jar in which you placed the bag, before carefully snipping off the corner.

All very strange for someone coming from a country where we were still used to the milkman doing his rounds every morning, leaving the glass bottles on the doorstep and coming back for the empties the following day.

If you wanted fruit cordial, I remember there were just two flavours available, made by the Assis company – orange and raspberry. This was a sweetened syrup which you diluted to get the desired concentration.

Nowadays, if the kids want something sweet and unhealthy to spread on their sandwiches, there is a wealth of choices, including the ever-popular Nutella. But many years before the launch of Nutella, there was השחר העולה (Hashachar Ha’Oleh – The Rising Dawn), an Israeli invention, which dominated the local market for years and which was, at the time of my aliyah, still the only chocolate spread available in Israel, unless my memory deceives me.

And, of course, there was Ama – a gooey, semi-liquid paste used for washing dishes. In hindsight, it must have been terribly unhygienic. You dipped the cleaning pad into the paste and then spread the paste on the dishes, and then dipped the pad back into the paste and so on and so forth. All those bacteria!!! Yukky!

Why am I thinking about all this now, as I await the delivery of my supermarket order, which I put in yesterday, online?

You know why it takes so long for me to fill out my order? It’s because there is so much choice! Shopping at the corner grocer’s also took time – but that was because the corner grocer’s was a neighbourhood meeting place where, even as late as the 1970s, people stopped to chat with fellow shoppers, or even, if the shop was relatively empty, with the shopkeeper. That hasn’t completely disappeared. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, I still used to go to the supermarket and people still chatted with their neighbours in the queue at the check-out tills. But now, I make my purchases on-line and haven’t set foot in a supermarket for a year and a half.

Sic transit gloria mundi … 😦

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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6 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – A Nostalgia Trip

  1. catladymac says:

    Congratulations on your Blogoversary. We enjoy your writings very much

  2. CATachresis says:

    I remember the milk when I was there in 1990! But also at that time I remember that the bread choice was amazing at the “Supersol” supermarket, which I lived more-or-less opposite! The cinnamon buns! Oh the wonderful smell!

    Happy anniversary and blogoversary!

    • Yes, by the 1990s, things were already very different. But it also depended on where you lived. Supermarkets in upmarket neighbourhoods tended to have a wider choice and sometimes, higher prices, than supermarkets (even from the same chain) in poorer neighbourhoods. And Supersal has always been one of the more expensive chains – although on the plus side, they had a wider choice.

  3. 15andmeowing says:

    Happy Blogoversary. I am sorry you lost your mother so young. So many changes over the years- some good and some bad. XO

  4. Carole Schulman says:

    Happy Blogaversary. I read every word at the hospital yesterday and didn’t; want to answer on my phone…so here I am to tell you I enjoyed every word and I always do. Kiss the babies for me.
    Katie Isabella and Mom

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