There’s a common thread running through this post. It’s about saving resources and everyone can help save resources. After you read this post you may not think me strange to take my plastic fork home from a Shabbat kiddush (celebratory meal), to use until it breaks. Maybe I will be the start a trend.
A business of 40 years duration just closed on Jaffa Road. The reason was that the owner had enough, he said. He owned a sprawling compound in Ein Kerem, in his famility for generations, and that would be his final destination. The shop was called Malka’s Jewelry. I loved going by because you never saw the same earrings on the display wall twice. That was because Malka’s consisted of piece-goods jewelry.
Piece-goods are purchased off of a bolt of fabric. A standard bolt is 25 yards. Once it’s sold there is no more. A real pro can tell how much fabric is left on a bolt. I call Malka’s “piece-goods” because there was no stock.
What was the source of these distinguished one of a kind pieces? They were “one-of-a-kind” samples of costume jewelry. Each pair was fastened to a small piece of cardboard in an “unfinished” way. There’s a Spanish company, Zara, today that works on a similar principle. You’d better buy now because we only do one run of this dress. The ladies buy and buy.
Israel is now called start-up nation. But it started out as spare parts nation. As a single earring is pieced together from several manufacturers workshops, so too, spare sheets of extruded tubing found their way into tractors, and building supplies. The center of Jerusalem was dotted with tiny tin-smith workshops stuck into a corner. You see less and less of these workshops.
I realized that the elaborate construction of Malka’s artsy earrings were the result of a cross-pollination of the refuse of many different jewelry manufacturers. I posed my conclusion to the owner who nodded in agreement. Maybe the component findings were gotten free from a dumpster outside the factory.
In today’s economy it’s a still good to be frugal, like the owner of Malka’s. It always has been. Some people have it in their personality and some, by way of painful experiences, like losing a job, attempt to be frugal. Then it’s already too late because it’s very hard to rein in free-range spending habits.
Frugality is a zeitgeist. To start, there are lessons one can learn from experienced shoppers and retailers. Most of this is not new. People behaved frugally for most of pre-history up until recently. Remember studying in Civics how states went to war over natural resources? Have you ever thought that you personally were a storehouse of natural resources?
You took a shower today. Do you dilute the shampoo? It can be stretched quite far. You ate yogurt. It came from a large plastic container. Did you bother to slice open the container and reach in and scrap out an extra serving? Did you apply lipstick today? Do you use your lipstick ‘tl the end and then scoop out the leftover with a lipstick brush? In my closet are a treasure trove of possible combinations. I stroll thru a store get a few ideas and come home and tweak a skirt here and there and out comes an outfit. It helps if you know how to sew.
A sense of frugality sports itself in many ways. Frugality is self promotion without the frills, For example, notice the cafe owner is on the job in the morning taking the furniture outside and to supervise the arrangement. He could have his help do it but he does it himself. He is promoting the image of himself as efficient and capable. This is after he’s supervised the incoming produce delivery.
The bottom line, if something breaks or chips, he is going to pay for it. It’s on him. Now the most insulting thing you can do is to bring your dog onto the street where tables are set out later in the day and let the animal do his business in front door of such a restaurant or cafe. This is Israel not Chelsea NYC or London. By being respectful of the streets you will be helping to correct the image of English speakers as wasteful and spoiled.
You might argue, is it frugal for store owners to clean their restaurant’s muck from the tiles and spread it on the sidewalk. After all, the cafes place their tables and chairs on the street. Isn’t the street if an esplanade and people socialize there?
It does make a lot of sense. Restaurant owners hose down the out-door cafe areas everyday. Have you seen the new “automatic brushes” called the “mathew” that scrub down the smoothly tile street? Are there signs posted when everything must be off the streets? Everyone knows that the mathews will rolled out over the sidewalks in a “clean sweep”.
If you own an animal and you are with a person that you wish to impress, pick that animal up and move him to the gutter. Shows that you are frugal with another person’s assets or the assets of all of us, which is water.
Frugality is another word for getting things done in the least expensive way. My daughters still tease me about something that I said to them when they were little. We rarely kept soda as a substitute for water. We were together in a supermarket and we passed the rows of sodas. My older daughter asked, “Do we have money to buy soda?” I replied, “Yes we have money, but it’s not for that”. That was almost 40 years ago.
Let’s say that you need some work done in your house. You would like to solder a metal piece, like a broken screen or you want to make a hole in a ceramic tile. Again, you are exerting caution to stick to a budget. Each time you bring a worker into your house there is a charge for his travel time. If possible bring the item to the worker’s shop. A tinsmith would have a soldering tool, that is much better than the kind used for doing stain glass.
As a long-time home owner, the skill of finding the right person for the job took many years to acquire. Generally my rule of thumb is the following: ask a person with a higher or broader level skill to do a simpler job. Then he will feel comfortable.
For example, you would like to have wheels affixed to the bottom of your luggage. You have the wheels. Do you bring the job to a luggage repair shop, to a carpenter who is working on a job in your house, or a shoemaker? All three can do the job. In my opinion the carpenter, because he is on top of that kind of work and handling the drill is a snap. The luggage shop might be the most expensive, considering there’s a worker to be paid and overhead. The shoemaker doesn’t do this everyday, he’ll quote a high price. Handling a drill is just not something that he is comfortable using-if indeed he has one at all.
My window installer Gaby just finished installing window blinds inside the window frames, throughout the apartment. The result was better than I had expected. He had installed 26 windows prior to this and has become a good friend. The windows are double pane glass. What was my plan? I measured to the closest meter the total area that the blinds would cover.
Estimates for blinds are based on the amount of square meters. I strolled around Talpiot and inquired among several showrooms, what the cost of mini-blinds would be including installation. I’m sure that a conscientious decorator would do the same. Then I saw Gaby’s estimate after he did an exact measurement. We came up with the same square meters. Then he met the same price as I had received at the showrooms. There was no arguing.
When Gaby finished the job, which took him a whole day with a break for lunch, he sat down with my husband. They chatted a while and then he asked for a bracha. It was well-deserved because we appreciate his work and are 100% satisfied.
Gaby had a worker with him who did little else than open bags of screws. He was not a relative. Then I remembered a conversation that I had with a friend who recently required some house repairs. She related a story about her worker who is a father of many children. He returned home after miluim, מילואים, (reserve army service usually for one month). Since he is in his 50’s he stays at camp and supervises and does whatever sergeants do. He also sees which soldiers are good workers and are indeed looking for work. Many young soldiers are between jobs or starting post high-school studies. These young fellows find work with the superiors in the IDF, not necessarily their own.
The sergeant finds workers from the pool of unemployed in his moshav ( community) . But he is still an independent worker. Some day I’ll get the details of Gaby’s connection to his assistant.
My husband explained that it’s like the motor platoon. Remember Sergeant Bilko? He was always fishing out the goof-offs to get his car fixed? So Gaby too maybe found his novice assistant while he was on miluim,מילואים.
Finally, I asked Gaby to do me a favor and punch holes in a tin box that I retrieved from the cheese store. Gaby punched several rows of holes all around and now I have a composter.
Now you ask where does one find a fixer? Every Yeshiva sets aside a space for a “fixer”, tucked away in the basement, with access to a court-yard. His main job is at the Yeshiva. He’ll use the space to perform small jobs on the side. Yeshiva boys are always throwing chairs around and breaking them. His soldering gun is perpetually on.
I found such a workshop in the downstairs of a Belz Yeshiva which has an entrance on Rechove Agrippas. A sure sign of a janitor’s workshop is a pile-up of broken metal tables and wheels that are used for spare parts. That’s one option.
Another school option, If you are really gutsy, is to find workers on a high school project. Stroll by a school in the summer. Those vacation months are the busy time for laborers to lay electrical conduit. That requires drilling through walls. Try to collect a few names and contact info of workers who would be interested in work during the winters. Just today I spotted three workers standing on two ladders. I would n’t interrupt them during a job.
But tomorrow, I plan to come by and ask if they would be willing to bring that long extension ladder to my apartment a few blocks away and wash the outside of my window, that are impossible to reach. Better yet, would be getting a few folks in my building to also have their windows washed, but there aren’t any customers for that.
If you want to be frugal, try this test. Throw something away and don’t replace it. This is the idea of streamlining. There is also a way to focus our eyes for streamlining. That means you will only buy a pair of socks that can be used with several outfits. Even if it is gorgeous, don’t buy it unless it works with many articles of clothing that you own. As you increase the investment, the more the new purchase is required to enhance what you already own. A good example are shoes.
They are a big investment, and as such never buy a two outfit pair of shoes.
Every purchase or view on the net makes your impression on the internet, your every movement on the net. What style and color that you look at.
Google over your shoulder, takes a peek at you
Google over your shoulder, sees what you like too
Bet your bottom dollar you and I are scr____
cause Google’s over our shoulders keeping tabs on you.
Bazargan—Tangy Tamarind Bulgur Salad
1 cup fine bulgur (cracked wheat), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (not macrobiotic)
8 tablespoons ou’ (tamarind concentrate), homemade or store-bought
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pine nuts (optional)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
1. Put the bulgur in a medium mixing bowl. Add the onion, lemon juice, tomato paste, ou’, vegetable oil, Aleppo pepper, cumin, and salt to taste. Combine well. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes, or until the bulgur is al dente, “firm to the bite.”
2. If desired, add the walnuts or pine nuts shortly before serving so that they do not become soggy. Garnish with the parsley and serve.
-From Poopa Dweck’s Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews (Ecco, 2007)
MONDAY 13 October 9:30 – 4:00 Ma’aleh Adumim
Activities, Cooking Class, Inspiring Lectures, Potluck Macrobiotic Lunch
NIS 40 for the entire day, plus a kosher macrobiotic dish
NIS 70 if you cannot bring a dish
It consists of gentle, slow motion, low impact routines that promote
good health and mental calmness, and relieves stress.
balance control, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and has shown
to reduce the risk of falls in both healthy and elderly patients.
It also is beneficial to those recovering from chronic stroke,
heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and fibromyalgia.
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in adolescents.
Acupuncture * Chinese Herbs * Nutrition * Martial arts * Tai chi
052 802 1436 (Israel)
718 689 1490 (New York)
Logotherapy: Find out who you are. Become the person you can be.
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Music by Hanna Yaffe
Hanna Jaffe is a storyteller, singer and teacher of Jewish traditional texts. She is originally from London. She studied in the ultra-orthodox, well-known seminary in Gateshead, UK.
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All profits of the Kenes will be going to a Scholarship Fund for Cooking Classes – after we see how much is made, we’ll see how many scholarships we can offer.