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Sarah Bechor
Sarah Bechor

Old country and pilgrimage, to bliss and busted.

Part 1: In the old country

In the old country, detergent used to sit on shelves and there was a spout dispenser to make life easier. In this county, I need to lift the bottle and pour a cup of detergent like in the olden days where they had to do their washing outside with their hands. It’s a precise comparison if you ask me.

And in the old country, tin foil was thick, reliable, and lasted a year. In this country, it’s thin, useless and lasts about a month.

So once a year, I go shopping at Osher Ad, aka, a taste of Costco in Israel, and buy my year lasting Kirkland tin foil. I never find a need to buy Kirkland toilet paper or garbage bags; I think Israel does a fine job meeting my needs in those areas. However, while I’m at Osher Ad, I mind as well buy a big Kirkland jar of mixed nuts for nostalgia, oh, and of course maple syrup. (Are those tiny bottles meant to last more than one breakfast of pancakes? And they cost more than a breakfast out at a restaurant!)

Part 2: The pilgrimage

So back in November 2021, I did my annual trek to Osher Ad, like one might go to Mecca or Uman, with a sense of mission and I admit, a drop of excitement. (I mean c’mon, Ramy Levy doesn’t have extra big carts and scanners.)

I walked in, took a deep breath and dove right in. I figured I’ll do my bi-monthly big shopping anyway while I am there, and I began by seeing the display of psychological crafts on my gullible mind: Wow… 45 bags of bamba for only 120nis? What a deal! So I fill my cart with my regulars, and lots of bamba, and a few extra goodies (the Schneider’s chocolate chip cookie bags are double the size and here I can get a bottle of vanilla extract that will last more than 3 batches of cookies!)

I get to the aisle of where the syrup ought to be. I look. I stare. I retrace my steps. I then ask a stranger, “Am I crazy?” I don’t see maple syrup from my old country. And she breaks the news: there is none. I take a deep breath at this tragedy of news but keep my mind on the goal of this spiritual voyage: thick reliable tin foil that will last me a year.

I keep going. Sad but determined on my quest.

The veggies and fruit are colorful and call my name: “Sarah, Sarah! Take us home. You don’t get produce like this typically.” True point my dear fiber friends, and I go a bit nuts. People look at me as if acknowledging I’m trying to start a diet, again. Let them think what they want. I just hope they don’t bump into me in the aisles where I binge shop on sugar and snacks. I wouldn’t want to ruin their image of me as a pillar of inspiration.

Part 3: The climax

I finally make it to the aisle of the sacred grail. I walk once, twice, three times, up and down and look. Israeli, Israeli… I love you Israel but I don’t want your tin foil. I rub my eyes. Try again. I stare, I get tears in my eyes but I remain faithful, send a little prayer to heaven and I know I will laugh at myself later: “Ha!” I will think, “And there it was right in front of me the whole time!”

But no.

I see a man who worked there, who might have been an Arab or Chasidish, but I was so focused on my question I didn’t take the time to notice, and asked with conviction and a cracked voice: Where is the Kirkland tin foil?

The next few words came with thunder, theatrical music, and a deep sense of a deflating balloon in my chest.

They had none.

I stopped right there. My mind skipped from: “People are dying of cancer, this is trivial” to “why did I bother coming here?” to “I’m never cooking again” to “my old country has betrayed me” to “why did I ever make aliya?” to “Osher Ad has betrayed me” to “focus on the blessings in your life” to “just keep swimming”… all in a matter of seconds. I would have thanked the Arab-Chasid, but while I was in my trance of thought skipping, he walked away. Deep breath. It will be ok.

Part 4: compensation

I keep going focusing on how unimportant good quality tin foil is and how corona is rampant, kids have been dying of hunger in Africa since I watched TV as a child and how Iran is a impending threat. I’ll live.

And then it happened. I saw, for the first time ever, shelf-spout-spencer Kirkland detergent. A halo appeared over this plastic tub of liquid and I thought, I’ll only need to move this heavy load of plastic a few times until it reaches its final home on top of my washing machine and then I’ll never have to lift it again… for months. Sanity was restored. G-d was good. “He takseth awaeth and restorest and givesth.” Or something like that.

I lift and realize, as long as my eyes will land on something big that says Kirkland over the next few months, and one tiny part of my life will be a fraction of a size of an ant easier, this voyage will have been worth it.

Part 5: Bliss

Our clothes smell so good! So fresh! So nice! I love how the container sits on my washing machine and I only need to fill the cup and pour, no heavy lifting for the weak armed. I feel like I’m in the old country and it makes laundry that bit more tolerable. Only issue is I start noticing: stains are not coming out that well. That’s weird. Could it be Israeli detergent has better stain removal ingredients than American products? Hmmm.

Part 6: Busted

Mid January 2022, my dear husband (who does mostly dishes…and I do mostly laundry!) asks me why we have 2 bottles of softener and no detergent? I tell him the American Kirkland container is detergent. And that he’s wrong, naturally. He tells me but the bottle says, in English (!!!) fabric softener. And it says it twice in big letters. I tell him he’s obviously mistaken. He smiles. “Sarah, how long have you been using double softener in each load without any detergent?”

Since November.

The moral of the story? Who the hell knows.

But I need to go out now and buy detergent.

About the Author
Sarah Bechor is a freelance writer in addition to her full-time job at United Hatzalah. She made Aliyah in 2007 and now lives with her husband and children in Gush Etzion.
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