Why did the chicken cross the road?
Why did the chicken cross the road?
The chicken has landed.
The chicken has landed.
Fun at the monkey park
Fun at the monkey park

Our Aliyah Chronicle

By Shmuel Katz

I hope you had a terrific Sukkot and a wonderful Yamim Nora’im season. At this time of year, I generally have some great yom tov stories and pictures to share with you, and I had been plotting the post-Sukkot article in my head. Then events intervened, and I intended to write an article about the latest tragedies here in Israel.

As I sat down to write this morning, I decided that I would not let terror and intimidation take over. Our lives here are not ruled by the latest attack and cannot be ruled by concern or fear. So let me share a few words with you about chickens.

You may know that the Muslim calendar is lunar. However, that calendar is not adjusted with an occasional extra month, as ours is, to keep the seasons in line. Therefore, their holidays fluctuate, coming a few weeks earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year. This means that their holidays will sometimes, but not nearly always, coincide with ours.

This year, Muslims celebrated a ten-day festival that coincided with the middle of our yamim tovim. While this would not normally be a major issue, the idiosyncrasies of this year’s calendar had a weird result: a chicken shortage.

You see, the shochtim did not come to work for three days the week of Rosh Hashanah and two days the week of Yom Kippur. And the Arab workers in the poultry plants did not come to work for their holidays, beginning somewhere at the end of that week. The combination meant that very little fresh chicken was produced for the marketplace at a time when demand would be high–for the erev Yom Kippur seudah ha’mafsekes, followed by Shabbat, chag, Shabbat, and again chag.

We have a neighbor who runs the meat department in a local store and he posted a notice warning everyone that the shortage was coming. But we all thought it would happen after Yom Kippur. So I went to the supermarket on Monday night, the night before Yom Kippur, to stock up, only to discover that they were sold out. I ran to the next store, where I bumped into Motti and Penina Eichler, who told me that every supermarket in the city was sold out.

With reports coming in that there were shortages throughout the country, I got nervous and hurried to a meat market in the old commercial center of town, where I thought they might still have some chicken. The owner told me that he did not have any chicken, but that a fresh delivery would be arriving at 6:30 the following morning.

So at 6:40 a.m. on erev Yom Kippur, I headed out to find some chickens. I got to the store to see that there was, indeed, a chicken delivery truck waiting at the store. But the store was closed. So I figured that I would wait there until they opened to sell me some chicken.

At 7:05, the truck suddenly pulled away. I assume the driver gave up on the delivery and was going to his next stop. In a panic, I put the car in gear and decided to follow him to his next stop, so that I could buy chicken from them.

At 7:06 I got a text message from Motti: “Did you make a chicken run this morning? Do they really have chicken?” I replied, “You’re not going to believe this. I was there at 6:45, the truck was there and no one was at the store. I am now following the truck to see where the next delivery is. He might end up leaving the city, in which case . . .”

I tailed the truck to a restaurant, where I got out and asked the driver if he would be making a delivery to any markets in the city. He named a nearby supermarket, and I followed him to that store. As he drove to the delivery dock, I parked my car, grabbed a wagon, and headed to the meat counter. As I approached the counter, the manager said, “Sorry, we have no chickens.”

I said, “Yes, you do–I just followed the truck here. He is unloading right now!”

About 20 minutes later (after a quality check by the store and a kashrut verification by the mashgiach), they brought out the chicken, with the driver cracking a big smile as he recognized me waiting. And within the 10 minutes it took for them to process my order, at least 40 people (including Penina Eichler) queued up to buy chicken.

Only in Israel.

– – –

Our chag and chol ha’moed were pretty good (and routine, thank G‑d). We hosted the annual Katz barbecue in our sukkah, along with a Kreinberg mini-barbecue the next night. With our older kids all occupied with friends, I took Moshe to the monkey park one day–we both enjoy zoos and similar attractions. Goldie and I went with the boys to the local police academy in Bet Shemesh, where there is a police museum, and they had some fun displays and demonstrations for the public. And I took the boys to the beach one day, where, unfortunately, I lost my glasses.

One final note. As we do each year, we joined my uncle and aunt for a meal on the second night of Sukkot (their yom tov leil sheini and our first night of chol ha’moed) and had a wonderful time. This year, their son, my cousin Shua Ray, also came for Sukkot. So we headed back to Yerushalayim on isru chag (their Simchat Torah) to visit with him and his family.

While we were there, Shua tried to convince Moshe (age 10½) to come spend a week visiting them in Chicago. Despite Shua’s continued insistence, Moshe would not agree to go. Nor would he explain his reasons. He was not afraid of the trip or of being there; he simply did not want to go.

It was not until we left that Moshe explained his reasoning. He apparently did not share the truth because he did not want to offend all the chutznickim in the house there. But the real reason he did not want to go to America?

“There is no kedushah there, Abba.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (www.migdalhatorah.org), a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at shmu@migdalhatorah.org.


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