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Monday, December 1, 2014


This appeared in the defunt Jewish Home Magazine published by the OK  in approimately 1995.

Sometimes, facets of our past come back to haunt us. Other times -- well, read on!
America of the 50s and 60s belonged to motherhood and apple pie. Families spent weekends mowing the lawn and watching Father Knows Best. Divorce was mentioned in whispers. Mothers stayed home and took care of the kids, while "daddies" went "off to work" and "put the bread on the table." Public school had a dress code; girls wore skirts and boys had short hair.
One evening my sister called me down to the basement. "You just have to see this!" she exclaimed, pointing to our black-and-white television. Ed Sullivan had brought in a new talent: four men with LONG hair (actually it was quite short, but compared to crew cuts…) were singing what seemed to be tuneless songs. The young girls, their hair ironed straight, were fainting from excitement.
We were amused. Was this the "new age" everyone was talking about?  We saw it as only a passing fad. We didn't realize it at the time, but a wall was being breached and our society would never be quite the same.
The next few years saw big changes -- in me as well as in America. I began keeping kosher. I started keeping Shabbos. As America changed into pantsuits and bell-bottoms, I donned dresses and stockings. I switched from a public school to a Bais Yaakov, and found myself as far away from the Beatles and the society they represented as Yerushalayim is from Greenwich Village.
But I will forever be grateful to the Beatles for how they have helped me in my daily life.
It happened several years ago when an ominous letter turned up in my mailbox. The Jerusalem Municipality was threatening to take us to court if we did not pay our back taxes. Somehow, however, the city’s computer had erred, and the amount we supposedly owed had quadrupled.
Determined to take the bull by the horns I set off for City Hall, armed with all the documents at my disposal, a sefer Tehillim, and a box of tissues (even the most hardened bureaucrat will often melt at the sight of a woman in tears!).
I was sent from one desk to another until, several hours later, I was waiting to meet the head of the entire tax department. Now I would be facing the real test. I took out my Tehillim and davened with almost as much kavana as I had on Kol Nidrei night.
Mr. VIP was apparently at his worst today. It was hot and sticky, and the municipality was not yet air-conditioned. As I sat impatiently waiting my turn, I watched one person after another walk out of Mr. VIP’s cubicle looking miserable. Some were even crying. 
My davening became more intense.
When I entered the cubicle, I found Mr. VIP angrily eyeing the phone as a recording told him to “please await his turn.” I felt that now was the time to soften him up with a little joke.
When Bezeq, Israel’s telephone company, first computerized its service, the phrase "please await your turn" was said between the music of The Beatles’ classic song, “Yesterday.” “Yesterday / All my troubles seem so far away / Now it looks as though they’re here to stay / Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
Every time I heard Bezeq laud yesteryear in the face of its tentative embrace of new technology, I would laugh at the little joke being played on the innocent Israeli public. Although no one else seemed to catch the humor of the song in this particular setting, for some reason I thought that Mr. VIP would.
When I shared my little joke, Mr. VIP stared at me in shock. “YOU know about The Beatles?” he asked, incredulous.
After nearly thirty years living in a cloistered Yerushalayim setting, I did not look like your average Beatles fan. “Where in the world did YOU hear of the Beatles?” he asked.
Mr. VIP began praising his favorite group. He equated the Beatles with everything positive in the world. His eyes sparkled with idealism as he passionately spoke about their contribution to society.
A few months earlier, I had visited my father in California. Leafing through a magazine, I read an article entitled “The Beatles and Israel.” Now, enough Beatles trivia rolled off the tip of my tongue to wow the bureaucrat. He was flabbergasted.
At the end of our conversation, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry about the error; it will be taken care of. And if you are ever in need of help again, just call me and remind me that you are the chareidi Beatles fan.”
I left City Hall with a heavier bank account and a lighter heart … and a tremendous debt to a group of long-haired Englishmen.

1 comment:

  1. I once walked into the closed office where the wife of a well-known Habad rabbi was sitting and she quickly shut off her Beatles tape. We laughed together.

    (Remember, they wore jackets and ties! Big revolutionaries.)