The first time Shifra* knocked on my door she held a large platter of chocolate and a welcome card.
“How did you know I moved in?” I asked in surprise. Our plane had only touched down at midnight and we had arrived at our apartment in Jerusalem as the sun was rising.
“Leave it to me,” she grinned as she handed me the platter. “No need to give me your info, your name is Ruchy Green* from Brooklyn.”
I blinked. “What?”
“One must do good investigation on neighbors,” she laughed. “My name is Shifra Perlman. My apartment is two doors over.”
“Nice to meet you,” I smiled. Shifra was going to be one fun neighbor.
“So glad you joined our building,” she oozed enthusiastically as she let herself in and sat down on the minuscule couch that took up half the dining room/kitchen. She looked around. “Cozy little place. I was never actually in this apartment before. The landlord has a hard time renting it out because of its size. And whoever does take it usually moves out before I can blink.”
I blinked. “Yeah, this is what we found,” I replied. I didn’t add that this was what we could afford. Any more square footage than this would put us in the red.
“So I guess I need to enjoy you while you last. Once baby number one joins I guess you’ll be moving.”
“I guess,” I nodded despite the fact that my husband and I had already made calculations about how many kids could fit in. We were on a real kollel budget.
“Enjoy the chocolate,” Shifra said. “Boy am I happy you moved in. The rest of the neighbors are either Israelis or older Americans.”
We spoke some more until my husband walked in. “See you later.”
“Nice chocolates,” my husband commented as he helped himself to one. “So glad you’re getting to know the neighbors.”
“Same here,” I smiled. With my family many miles away separated by an ocean, I was happy to become acquainted with anyone who spoke my language.
Shifra was a fun neighbor. The next time she knocked on my door was the very next morning. My husband had left earlier, and I was drinking coffee and feeling a bit lonely.
“Figured I’d pop by to say hello,” Shifra smiled. “Smells like coffee. How about I join you?”
Shifra helped herself to a generous amount of coffee and added some milk. “Milk in a bag?” she laughed, “that is so Israeli! I can’t believe you buy it. I would neve ever use milk in a bag. ” Of course I did. It was a shekel cheaper than the regular milk.
We schmoozed for a while. Shifra was a great story teller and kept me in stitches with her tales of life in Israel. The morning flew by.
“Before I go, do you have an onion?” she asked. “It’s for supper. I’m too lazy to run to the makolet just for that.”