Erev Shabbat approaches and the table has been opened to it's full capacity, encircled by 16 or maybe 17 chairs of various size and sturdiness. (Don't sit down hard on a few of them - they might collapse!) The table is mostly set, though some silverware may still be waiting to be washed. In the kitchen there are good smells and "organized chaos" as Katya finishes the cooking and directs any willing guest (or unwilling) family member in the last minute preparations.
Soon the rest of the guests arrive and the noisy activity subsides as everyone finds their seat. Moshe leads in prayer and singing the blessings over the wine and challah bread. Once the prayers are finished Katya gets up to serve the food and may not sit down again until everyone else has almost finished. She laughs about being the slowest eater. This is actually true, but the deeper truth is that she is not there for the food. Her desire is to open her home that people might come and be blessed in both simple and profound ways. This is the essence of my wonderful mother and when I "grow up" I want to be just like her.
You see, during the time that my father was seeking spiritual enlightenment and overdosing on bean sprouts, my mother was tending a large vegetable garden, keeping house and caring for a small flock of chickens and goats. After art school and a year in San Francisco the two of them came to live the hippie life on my grandparents' large property. Together they made a home out of the old bank barn, had a baby girl (me) and found the great enlightenment they had been searching for in the person of Yeshua.
Both Moshe and Katya became believers within a few days of each other. She is proud of the fact that she was the first to accept as truth the wonderful witness brought to them by her younger brother. Katya smiles when she says that those first few weeks were the only time she could claim to know more about the Bible than her husband. I have often laughed with her because she is still in the September or October section of her "Read it Through in a Year" Bible when the New Year rolls around. But do you know what? She just starts in January and reads the two sections in parallel! Many of us (me for example) would just throw up our hands and say, "Forget it!" Yet her slow and steady approach to Bible study (and everything else) personifies who my mother is and in the end she accomplishes much.
|A portion of the Morrison Clan|
By now you are thinking that my mother is a saint. Yes, but she is far from perfect. Mixed in with Mom's patience is a strong will and a temper that is almost always kept in check. One memorable incident of righteous anger resulted in her tossing our little black and white TV out onto the frozen front yard. We had not had a television before and the next one entered our house only after we moved to Israel many years later! Another response (provoked by a stubborn teenage me) ended with her having to clean up a gallon of white paint from the basement floor. Sorry Mom!
Then came our move to Israel. The knowledge that we would make aliyah was present in our family as long as I can remember. In her practical way, between babies and other duties, Mom took Hebrew language (Ulpan) courses in an attempt to prepare for this drastic change. She was faithful in her class attendance but once back at home there was rarely time to complete the homework. Living in Israel the situation was the same. Yet slowly she has learned to speak Hebrew (albeit simply and with mistakes) and has even added a large number of Russian words to her vocabulary.
In 1994 most of our family was packed up and transplanted to the city of Haifa. As you can imagine, the transition was not an easy one. Mom's strong will and persistence stood her in good stead. She could have settled in and focused solely on her home and family during this upheaval. This she did, but she also looked to see what was happening around her in our new neighborhood and congregation. And once again she started inviting people over every Friday night for erev Shabbat dinner.
In Israel as in Jewish communities around the world, the Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday. The majority of the population does not work on Friday afternoon and on Shabbat. Gathering together for a special meal with family and friends is a traditional way of welcoming in the Sabbath and marking the transition from the busy work week. When we moved to Israel we brought all our furniture including an expanding oak dining room table. (It was actually built in Maryland by an Israeli who ran furniture manufacturing business there.) Each Friday night the chairs around it were filled. And if someone needed a place to stay (on that night or any other) a place would be found for them to sleep. This tradition has continued and blossomed through 3 moves and consecutively smaller apartments.
When I look at my Mom I see a beautiful woman who cares greatly for others. She does not draw attention to herself or to what she does. She seeks out the things that need to be done and sets herself to do them. Often these are monotonous but necessary tasks which are not particularly gratifying and bring little recognition. She is constantly thinking of creative solutions: from encouraging the congregation's children to read, to helping develop a children's Shabbat School curriculum which will serve our multi-lingual community throughout the country.
|Around Katya's table, but Katya's in the kitchen|
Mom is both thrifty and extremely generous. She will scold Moshe or one of the kids for "wasting" a few shekels by calling her with the wrong cell phone but then she'll turn around and give away hundreds to a family that she knows is in need. She will avoid spending money on some small "frivolous" thing but is totally unconcerned about how much money is spent on feeding the multitudes every erev Shabbat or holiday. (There were 25 at our Passover seder this year. On the Feast of Tabernacles there are people over every night of the 7 day holiday. And one memorable evening we hosted a tour group of twenty from Canada in our Sukkah!)
As I reflect on all that my mother has accomplished and is still doing, I am encouraged to look deeper at myself - to ask, "What is my place? Who does God want me to be as a mother, wife and servant in His community?" Katya has chosen to use the simple giftings that she has been given to bless and serve others. I exhort you to do the same. Don't be intimidated to open your hearts and homes. Lives will be changed and enriched as a result!
|Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.|
Also in this issue of the newsletter:
|Dr. Daniel Juster: The World View Question|
|Moshe Morrison: By Bean Sprouts Shall No Flesh Be Justified|
|Eddie Santoro: Bridges To China|
|Yuval Yanay: Prayer For Denmark|