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Tam Tams

On Fridays at around 4:00 pm, I sit at my Hebrew school desk, watching Rabbi Goodman pour Coke into Dixie Cups and place a Tam Tam cracker into the hands of my seven-year-old classmates.

When the rabbi stands in front of me, I fish a buffalo nickel out of my pocket, walk to his desk and carefully insert it into the slot on top of an erez Israel charity box.

My nickel clangs against the other coins housed on the bottom of the tin.

I stare at this pushka that reflects its age with small nicks or dents on its face.

Its blue and white enamel bares scars.

Scratches cut across the blue Mediterranean and onto the white map of erez Israel.

Yes, it’s a Jewish National Fund tzedakah box;

Yes, this tradition introduces me to the pleasures of giving to those in need;

Yes, it is a quid pro quo: five cents for the loving thought of helping others;

Yes, I also get to taste a kosher Tam Tam and drink some cold Coke;

Yes, that cracker crunches and melts in my mouth;

Yes, for that nickel, I wish Rabbi Goodman had given me another Tam Tam and a refill of Coke;

Yes, this act of nickel giving tastes sweeter than that Tam Tam and Coke;

Yes, sixty-six years later, I’m in my home getting ready to write some checks to my favorite charities;

Yes, before I write these checks, I remember the taste of those small hexagonal crackers paired with Coca Cola;

Yes, I go to my kitchen frig, remove a bottle of Coke and pour it into a Dixie Cup;

Yes, I walk to my cupboard, remove a box of Tam Tams and I take just one cracker out of the box;

Yes, I sit at my desk, munching on my Tam Tam, sipping on my Coke and writing checks;

Yes, I recall Rabbi Goodman and my days in Hebrew school;

Yes, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life was reinforced every Friday afternoon, when I gave up a nickel to help the less fortunate;

Yes, Rabbi Goodman taught me the importance of giving tzedakah and for that reason alone, I love him.

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. ChatGPT says, Mort is known for his works that often explore themes of love, loss, and the human connection. Laitner has published several books , including “A Hebraic Obsession.” His writing style is characterized by its emotional depth and introspection. Laitner’s works have garnered praise for their heartfelt expression and keen insight into the human experience.
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