Rosanne Skopp
Rosanne Skopp

Where Have All the Balabustas Gone?

It’s Friday morning in central Israel.  Herzliya to be exact.  And why is this morning different from all other mornings? Because it’s Friday of course.

There’s something in the air.  If I had just landed from Mars I’d still recognize the scent of Friday.  And the sights.  Early morning traffic, missing in action.  Streets are more peaceful. By 10 or 11 things will pick up, but, in Israel, Friday is not just another weekday.

Practically no one works on Friday.  Sure the malls are open.  Gas stations.  Hospitals. Schools.  But everyone will tell you Friday is not a work day.  If you want your electrician or plumber to come, it generally will not be on Friday unless it’s a dire (which means expensive) emergency.

If you want to visit an office or bank, just forget about it until Sunday. Friday is Friday.

Ah Sunday.  Another surprising day.  Sunday never feels like Sunday in Israel.  Sunday feels exactly like Monday.

Years and years ago when Israel started thinking about a real weekend, Friday was the day recommended.  I didn’t like the idea, but, strangely, it wasn’t up to me.  I didn’t like it because Friday has always been a short day in Israel, especially in the winter when Shabbat can come in before 4 pm.  So work was only a half day or a bit more.  The gain in making Friday a weekend day was Friday morning, not a whole day.

Sunday, on the other hand, could have been a full day to do all the fun things that Americans do on Sundays.  It never happened and it won’t. Sunday is a normal work and school day.  Friday is definitely not.

Some places have Friday activities which are unique to Friday.  We often go to the shuk in Rosh Ha’ayin.  So do hordes of other people. It’s only open on Friday and they have everything from food to cheap clothing to books to toys and religious articles.  In other words, everything Israel’s shuks are known for in a somewhat claustrophobic enclosed outdoor area.  You’d think they’re giving the stuff away by the crowds.  They’re not.

But today I want to tell you about what happens in Herzliya on Friday mornings.

First there’s Nisso.  It’s clearly the best bakery in the world, especially for dairy, chalavi that piles on the pounds with such abandon, but is so extremely rich and delicious that you don’t mind the extra weight.  And wait!  It’s not only I who shop there.  Be patient. I’ll diet on Sunday. Certainly not on Shabbat.  One can also have an Israeli breakfast at Nisso if one is prepared for a tiny table and lots of others feasting, for the first, but not last, feast of the day.  Delicious.  And it appears that the whole town is there.

But they can’t all be at Nisso since they all seem to be at Kibbutz Glil Yam.

Smack in the middle of Herzliya is a robust, huge kibbutz.  Really.  It’s walking distance from our apartment.  And while you’ve heard that the kibbutz movement is suffering economic losses, that’s not Glil Yam. They’re booming.  Especially on Friday morning.

Israeli women don’t seem to be making the gribenyas that permeated my mother’s Friday morning kitchen.  At least in Herzliya, they’re making the  jaunt to Glil Yam where there’s a huge, enormous (did I say big?!) takeout food market.  I honestly can’t think of anything Shabbasdik that you can’t get there.  All of it delicious!

Start with appetizers. Chopped liver.  Check.  Gefilte fish.  Check.  A vast variety of salads of every description.  Check.

Challah.  Homemade. Check.

Fabulous cakes.  Check. (note to self:  If you buy cake at Nisso must you also buy cake at Glil Yam?  Looking good on you.)

Meats.  Kugels.  Potatoes of infinite variety.  Check. Check.  Check.

The housewives of Herzliya are spending money with abandon. Usually their husbands are there to add their own favorites. The parking lot is frenetic.  The enormous bags are packed to the brim. Home cooking?  If your home is the kibbutz maybe.

How do I know?  What do you think?

Shabbat shalom!

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of three. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.