Jewish Life in Greece - Adina Mindick

Jewish Life in Greece - Adina Mindick

Adina's experiences studying the Jews of Greece on Crete and Rhodes in summer 2007

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Posted by Adina Mindick at 5:46AM   |  Add a comment
Silver pomagranate

Things here in Chania have been relatively quiet. I’ve gotten to the beach several times, which has been wonderful, and I’ve done a lot of research in the library at Etz-Hayyim. I usually work there in the evenings when there are very few visitors. Usually I do some work  and stroll through the courtyards and sanctuary. Although it’s a small space, which I walk through every day, I always find something new which I hadn’t noticed before. Yesterday I spotted a huge column stretching from one side of the courtyard to a tree on the opposite side. Although I detest insects and can usually be found running away at the site of them, I couldn’t help but watch. Each one of them was carrying something, working together to complete some large task, probably located beneath my feet. It must have been similar to the restoration work that needed to be done on Etz-Hayyim.  A seemingly endless  amount of tasks, which was accomplished through the hard work and collaboration of many people. I’m in awe every time I walk through those doors and think about what used to be here and what is here today.

I tried the plums from the tree growing in the front courtyard yesterday too, they are small, about the size of large grapes and delicious, very juicy and sweet.  Across from Etz-Hayyim is a restaurant called Xani (pronounced like Chani or Hani), the owner, Dimitri is friendly with the Etz-Hayyim community and he was the one who told me to try the plums. As he picked some fruit off and handed it to me I hesitated, thinking “is it safe to eat this? Can you really just eat it right off the tree?” Don’t worry everyone, I washed it off thoroughly!! After eating 2 or 3 of them, and wondering if I’d get sick or not, I thought how odd it was. This is the same way fruit grows before it arrives in the grocery store right? There’s also an olive tree, an etrog tree and a grapevine in the courtyard. I also have a grapevine growing on my balcony but have been warned that none of these will be ready until the winter time.

I had a really cool experience when I was souvenir shopping around town.  There’s a jewelry store I’ve gone into twice, which has really interesting stuff. The shop owner was very friendly and remembered me the last time I went in. As I paid for gifts for the people who are hardest to shop for on my list she handed me a small box and said it was a gift to remember her by. I didn’t think much of it because it had come from the same shelf as the empty gift boxes. I opened it the following morning and had no idea what this small silver object inside was. I asked Alex, the secretary of Etz-Hayyim, who informed me that it was a silver pomegranate. He told me it was a symbol of good luck and that there’s a tradition of smashing a pomegranate on the ground on New Years and the seeds represent the progeny you will have. I think it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.

Here are some more of my cultural differences, enjoy.

•         Beaches: If you want to go to the beach in the U.S. you must schlep your towels, blanket, food, beverages, chairs and umbrellas. If you want to go to the beach in Rhodes or Chania: The umbrellas and chairs are already on the beach and you will pay 5 euro for that and as much sun as you can soak up before getting crispy.

•         Laundry: In the Mindick home: Laundry can be done at all hours of the day and night, and all 4 children have be known to make pilgrimages home from college simply to do so. The wash and dry settings are in English and DON’T forget to empty the lint!!! In my apt in Chania: The washing machine settings are in German and you will take the instruction manual, type the settings into a translation Web site and still not be able to make heads or tails of them. {If anyone knows what buntwasche or hauptwasche means PLEASE let me know}. Also there is no dryer  so don’t even think about hoping for soft and fluffy towels.

•         Microwaves: In the U.S. –they are in just about every kitchen, in fact a microfridge was the definition of “kitchen” in my freshman and sophomore year dorm.  Don’t cook anything for more than 30 seconds or else it will burn. In my apts. In Rhodes&Chania: No microwave, but there is a French press…and an oven which I sometimes walk away from and forget about.

•         The supermarket:   In the U.S. if you are looking for any flavor of soup, don’t worry, Campbells has already made it. Just bring your reading glasses to the supermarket because they all look the same and you’ll have to allocate at least 20 minutes in your grocery shopping schedule to squint down the aisle until you find Cream of Mushroom. In Chania: Campbell’s does not exist and neither does the entire aisle of soup cans.

•         Radio stations: In the U.S. – you can usually find a variety of music by browsing through different stations. In Chania: techno station #1, techno station #2, techno station #3….


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