Sunday, December 11, 2011

"...where everybody knows your name..." #5 -- A Plea for Small-Town Israel

Yom rishon, 15 Kislev 5772.

Moshe with satisfied customer, famous all-night cyclist,  Mr. Stella Frankl.
For Mishpachat Mizrachi, one of the great benefits of moving to Israel has been the ability to live a Jewish life and to live in a small town.

That means most people know us, and are to one degree or another personally invested in our success and happiness.

It means that we know what's up with each other's kids, and can help each other to raise them.  "It takes a village" only works when people in that village know each other.  Small towns allow for that familiarity, more than do big cities.

It also means small-town service, where we can walk to the library and the post office, to the bakery and the hardware store and the local market, and where the people who run these places care about giving us the best service possible.  Not just because they want to beat their competitors -- but because they are able to form a relationship with us, to learn what we like, and to try their best to provide it.

But like any relationship, it's a two-way street.

Moshe, always ready to listen to his customers.
Gilo resident Moshe Torjman returned to Israel 30 years ago with his Chicago-born bride.  He brought with him from America a wonderful command of the English language, and a knowledge of some of the products and service concepts that matter to American olim.  He and his brother Avi have had other successful stores, in  Kiryat Yovel for three years, and in Bayit Vegan for twenty-one years.  Now they have decided to put all of their effort into the makolet in Neve Daniel.

Avi stops his usual hyperactivity for a quick photo.
We were apprehensive about the change in store ownership.  We were used to the makolet the way it was.  It was the nicest small-town market we had seen in our travels around Israel.  And we loved Shulamit.  How would we manage with change?

As it happens -- though how could we not still miss our dear Shulamit? -- the store is even better than before.  The service is excellent, as Moshe and Avi and their long-time employee Sasha, as well as the familiar face of Yoram, work very hard at keepin' the customer satisfied.

Yoram gives a lesson in chicken hechsherim and Hebrew.  No extra charge.
Sasha always has a kind word, and an eye out for that special product I was seeking.

They have enlarged the produce department, and have added a meat counter.  The store is always adapting and growing within its confines.  New displays are always popping up, giving a feeling of order and abundance, with an almost American feel.  Ask for a product, and they will do their very best to acquire it.  (And if there is something you don't care for -- such as the short-lived cigarette display -- the Torjmans are equally prepared to be responsive to comments.)

Who says you can't have it all?

They are trying very hard to keep their prices competitive, not an easy task when the competition is against big markets just a few kilometers down the road.

Rav Auerbach chicken, and Beit Yosef chalak beef.  Both excellent!

"We have good people who are anxious to serve the residents of Neve Daniel," Moshe says.  Implicit in that statement is that those good people and that good service can only remain in Neve Daniel if we support it.  If we just come in once in a while to buy a carton of milk, the store will not survive.

So this is a personal plea to my automobile-endowed neighbors.  I certainly don't mind you helping to support that other worthy gentleman in his huge store down the road.  But think about breaking up your shopping and doing a third or a half of it locally.  The Dearly Beloved and I are among your neighbors who will probably never have a car; so we do almost a hundred per cent of our shopping at our local "mom-and-pop" store.  As much as I know you would be willing to do the mitzvah of shlepping me to the store once or twice a week -- it would mean so much more to me if you could help to maintain my local makolet, just a short walk and lots of independence and warm, friendly service from my door.

"Aich at margisha hayom, Rabanit?"   A spiritual promotion, and genuine concern.

"Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came..."  
-- from the "Cheers" theme, by Judy Hart Angelo and Gary Portnoy
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