My veria



I remember Veria, winter, icicles hanging from the window sill. I touch my cheek and my lips to the cold glass, concealing the view through the window with my warm breath, then waiting for it to clear and following with my eyes the ray of sunlight that lights windows of the synagogue across the street. In my imagination I see grandma Leah put the dough, left to rise over night, into the wood-burning oven on the ground floor, to make fresh bread. The smell of the baking bread drew me to my mother's kitchen, I would take a bite from the bread, fresh from the oven… and then, outside.

Summer, Aleko, the son of the neighbour used to wait for me and together we went down to the river, where we would vanish amid the trees and collect ripe figs along the steadily flowing Barbuta River.

Our community was on this bank of the river.

In my imagination I see the jasmine pots in grandma's window and breathe in the heady fragrance they spread in the whole neighbourhood. And now it is already evening and Grandpa Reuben, dressed in his Shabbat garments, hums zmires in preparation for going to the synagogue.

I was not fortunate enough to know my grandfather who was one of the leaders in the community of Veria. Neither did I have a chance to know Grandma Leah or Grandma Rachel but sometimes I feel like having spent a lifetime with them.

Now I am here. The quite of the past 60 years is interrupted, the quarter starts to change, some of the crumbling houses are being repainted, and the inscriptions on the walls are being conserved.

Barricaded windows are forced and wooden floors painted and red tiles adorn the roofs.

Nevertheless, a considerable part of the quarter stands abandoned with forgotten cloth pins hanging in an old window, paint peeling off the walls and empty flats.

Reuven Emanuel

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