8 Julia Street East

(Courtesy)
(Courtesy)

I’m mourning for the walls.
The walls that watched 8 Julia Street East,
watched my mother daven for her children, every Friday night.
(My mother knows how to daven for her children).
I’m mourning for the walls of 8 Julia street that soaked in the chesed,
the endless, endless kindness.
You see 8 Julia Street was never a normal house,
how could it be?
Everyone knows about the many many photos on the walls.
Some one who wasn’t religious at all once came into the house and asked me if there was a religious reason for all the photos being hung up asymmetrically.
The photos watched the kindness,
and the learning.
The very very beautiful lilting tune of the learning of my father early in the morning,
and the smell of the coffee next to his sefer.
The walls on 8 Julia Street East will also tell you about the man who slept in the study every night (and was Gedalia’s roommate at one point) and the woman who slept in the pink room every Friday night.

The walls can tell you lots of things,
but can they tell you how you felt when you sat at the shabbos table?
When the meals were simple and unglamorous,
not unglamorous in terms of the delicious Hungarian food and beautiful wedgwood dishes,
not unglamorous in terms of the singing and warmth,
unglamorous in the fact that you didn’t have to do anything or be anything to sit there.
In fact no one would notice if you weren’t there or came late,
or didn’t say one word throughout the meal!
And the meals didn’t wait for you to arrive – you would just walk in whenever and the meals were short, but long in their richness and simplicity.
There are ten of us.
And now we have our children.
And I’m still too scared to tell my daughter, Rychel and my son, Alex, 8 Julia is no longer there.
Well then what is there?
If the walls that watched the magic are no longer there,
where is the magic and humility.
Where is the box that held the tzedoka, that my father dedicated so much time to, together with Lionel.
And who can find the smell of the airy spacious sukkah?
And the study with the books lined up to the ceiling.

This is not a story about seforim.
Or tefillin or tsitsis,
even though I watched the firefighter give my father his burnt tallis and tefillin, and I watched my father calmly put it in a plastic bag.
It’s a story about a study that made you feel better when you walked into it.
Because the seforim contained the learning, kindness and integrity that was expressed in front of them.

Oh but the holy floor,
the floor contained the thousands of people,
who walked on it and experienced something, unlike anything else.
It could be the smell or it could be Sa
and it could be the garden.
But maybe it’s the dedication of my mom and dad giving.
Giving of themselves.

And the Seder on Pesach with all the unheroic guests on the 2nd night,
the same guests every year.
Not always fun.
Just was.

Sa is one of the heroes and that’s why I think her room was untouched.
everyone knows Sa!
cos Sa is the king.
And everyone knows that Sa knows everything.
The Steinway piano.
How many people did it uplift.
with my mother’s playing.
And all of our friends. All of our friends who wanted to just
be in the house because they knew it always had space for them.
They knew without anyone telling them, when they walked through the green gate of
8 Julia Street East.

About the Author
Breindy Klawansky is a musician and poet living in Hyde Park, Johannesburg. She has an honours in visual and performing arts from Wits university and her 2nd album Ruth Ave was nominated for best alternative album at the Sama's. She is married to producer, Matthew Klawansky and has three children.
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