Sunday, October 01, 2006


The chicken is roasting with the lovely vegetables in the oven...the rice is ready...the stuffed zuccini boats smell gorgeous...the salads need making...the cakes are done...and I have a window of time to write and wish you once again a sweet new year and an easy fast.

One of the traditions of Yom Kippur is kaparot.

Kapparos or Kaparot (Hebrew: כפרות) is a traditional Jewish religious ritual that
takes place around the time of the High Holidays.
Classically, it is performed by swinging a live chicken around one's head three
times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the chicken. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor, to be eaten at the pre-Yom Kippur feast.[1]
In modern times, Kapparos is performed in the traditional form mostly in Haredi communities. Members of other communities tend to perform this ritual with charity money substituted for the chicken, swung over one's head in similar fashion.
As the chicken (or money) is swung about the head, the following paragraph is traditionally
This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement.
(This rooster will go to its death / This money will go to charity), while I
will enter and proceed to a good long life and to peace.[2]

Rosh HaShanah 1972. I was married ten months. I was almost seven months pregnant. My mother-in-law called me over to her house. No phones at the time. My mother-in-law had the one television set and Yossi the Butcher's mother had the one phone in the neighbourhood. So when my husband came home that night he told me that his mother wanted to see me in the morning.

'Merilly (that was as close as she ever got to getting my name right), tomorrow what are you doing?'
'Nothing, Imma. Why?'
'We have to make kaparot.'
'We do?'
'What exactly are we going to have to do?'
'Don't worry. Just be here at seven o'clock tomorrow morning.'

No one messed with Savta (Grandma). So at seven the next morning my husband walked me over ( we lived around the corner and up the street in Macheneh Yehudah at the time) and he went off to work.

And for the next eight hours we plucked chickens! Eleven of them!
Now, as my time is limited today, I have to give you the shortened version.

Question number one...when was the last time you touched a dead chicken?
Question number two...with the head still on?
Question number three...with all the insides still inside?

See, where I came from you either went to the nice butcher or the grocery store and there, all gutted and plucked, were any number of chickens who had given up their lives for the good of the cause.

In America, we were walking on the moon, for G-d's sake! In Macheneh Yehuda we were plucking chickens!

A few years have passed since that day.

As we worked, I watched my mother-in-law separating the feathers into different bags. By nightfall she turned to me and said:

'Merilly, I want you to have a remember from this day.'
'A remember?'
'Yes. You worked very hard and I have decided to make you a nice pillow from all the soft feathers we collected today.'

As I sit here writing from my little mirpesset (porch) off my bedroom, I can see my bed and that very same pillow.

I have made many things in my life. But one of the things I am most proud of is that pillow.

Savta was right. Sometimes you simply need a 'remember'.

G'mar hatima tova. A sweet new year and easy fast.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.


At 2:42 PM, Anonymous the guv said...

Your chicken story was positively fowl !

But what a biblical heroine you were, and still are !

Imagine, having a live chicken play helicopter over your head. This, followed by hours of eviscerating and denuding that same chicken and 10 of its closest relatives. And, G-d bless you, instead of becoming a life-long vegetarian, you became emotionally attached to a pillow filled with the remains of that day's extermination and mutilation.

Somehow, you managed to turn a potential nightmare into a "remember". Like I said, you're a blippin' heroine !

Say, do you think that one of these days you can tell us about the first time you made authentic kishka ? THAT "remember" should be a regular knee-slapper !!!!

The Guv

At 2:44 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

dear the kurdim they call it 'kirsheh'...i made it once...can still smell it...but on my c.v. it looks greattttttttt...if ya can't beat 'em...join 'em...gmar hatima tova :)))))

At 3:10 PM, Blogger treppenwitz said...

I helped a friend shecht (he did the cutting) and flick (remove the feathers) a few birds last month. But I loved your story anyway.

Gamar Chatima Tova.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thanks trepp...kind of thing you don't forget...and you too...gmar chatima tova

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous sydonia said...

easy fast and a good new year to you------good to read the remembers you have cherished------love to all of you

At 3:32 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thanks my are a great part of my to you after fast

At 8:39 PM, Blogger cheated are the clouds said...

Wow all the way from Jerusalem, I'm glad you found my site and I yours, I grew up on a farm and yes we caught and prepared our own chickens and turkeys when I was young, long time ago I'm afraid, glad we go to the butcher and buy them now, much easier, that was a great stoy thank you for sharing, I want to read the rest of your site as I am always happy to find new people, have a great day

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous joan said...


At 7:07 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

thanks joan...i really really appreciate it...stay safe

At 7:10 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

dear cheated...thanks so very much for dropping in...i am glad i found your blog also...ahhhhhhhhhh niagara falls all i have to figure out is how you got your name:))))))) talk to you soon...stay safe

At 7:12 PM, Anonymous tamara & issac said...

Shanah Tova, easy fast and the most wonderful write up in the book of life to you and yours.
Secondly, few thoughts about your few last blogs.
Thank G-d for Noa's release. Everything is going to be a O.K. But you have to recognize that the events of last few weeks are another mile in your journey.The fact that you lost your job and Noa's story happening at the same time are very clear to me.You have just been given a story line for a screen play. Now you have time to write and by the time you'll write the final chapter we'll have a happy ending.

I also have my "remembers" about chicken.
When I was about five-six years old, (in the old country) my father (AH) bought a live chicken. Since the chicken needed to be fatten up, my father, attached a string about two meters long between her left foot and a post in our front yard, with a thought of feeding it for few more days.
As he had accomplished his mission, I came from school.
I came upon the chicken and immediately burst into hysterical cry.
Both my parents run out the house, thinking I was about to be kidnapped or worse.
"What wrong ?", they asked seeing me perfectly safe, to which I answered : " The chicken is looking at me".
Even today every time we have a chicken for dinner my whole family recites the quote.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Be safe, be healthy and pass my wishes to Bubby Channah and your family.

Tamara & Issac

At 7:14 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

dear dear to you and issac and the children and again a sweet gutt yontiff to you all...i loved your chicken story...vey...and aren't all our 'remembers' so important? now i don't know if i'll write a play about life but when i finish 'emma shelby is no more' i want to start a new book 'the astrology class' hmmmm the plot thickens...i'll keep you informed yahoooooooooo i hope you all had an easy fast...stay safe

At 9:10 PM, Blogger Frances said...

Marallyn as your dear friend from Tel-Aviv I want to congratulate you on your efforts and very interesting writings on your blog. You have encouraged me to do the same as you have always encouraged me on my various problems and pushed me to carry on writing by giving me overwhelming compliments when I really know I am only a beginner. My only hope is that all your kind deeds will be returned to you and you become a well-known published writer.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger marallyn ben moshe said...

dear dear are one of the most talented women i know...i hope that one day soon you will have your own blog the meantime you paint, you mystical...and you are a dear dear friend...thanks for dropping in...stay safe


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