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Vintage Wine

Yehudis Becker

They are my teachers. My friends. They are the grandparents I never had. Each visit with them holds the promise of surprise, the richness of wise insight, the humor of a wry comment. Five memorable encounters.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It all started with a phone call. “I know you’re busy,” Chaya told me. “It’s silly of me to even ask you. But we’re looking for someone to teach our group once a week, and we thought of you.” When I called her the next day to say yes, she was overjoyed. And that was the beginning of a relationship I’ll always remember. At 70-plus, Chaya had the youthful energy of a woman decades younger. She was wise, spunky, and radiated unconditional love. A baalas teshuvah, she was still desperately trying to make up for lost time. Teachers should never have favorites, but Chaya had that something special that knocked on my heart. Each time she called me “Mammele,” I melted. Every Sunday night I sat hunched over my seforim, poring over mefarshim in preparation for my shiur. In name I was the teacher; I sat at the front of the ad hoc classroom with a Chumash open in front of me. But as we learned, talked, analyzed, and laughed, I became the student and they the purveyors of precious life lessons. Our classroom, Chaya’s dining room, was a safe place where any question or comment was worthy. The women’s insight, candidness, and humor made that hour the highlight of my week. 

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