Alice Marks, Morris Maze, Nina Zuck. Photo by Oren Gioma.
It all started a long time ago…
As far back as I can remember, I was always part of our family's shop on the Main Road, Wynberg, a suburb of Cape Town. From when I was six or seven, I would stand behind the counter, perched on a wooden 'mineral' box – used originally for delivery of soft drinks which were called 'minerals' – and serve ice creams from our 'American Soda Fountain.'
In later years, my parents sold the shop and bought a nearby drapery business which was a great improvement with shorter hours and merchandise selling for shillings, unlike the previous shop where everything was sold for a penny or a tickie – a threepenny-bit – or sixpence. I continued to help in the shop whenever necessary, and always on Shabbat because my Mother was a regular shul-goer. I came to value being part of the family business, and enjoyed being regarded as such.
Four shops away, the Maze family owned a secondhand furniture store, and there too, the children grew up as part of the business.
A few months ago, I learnt that ESRA Netanya was planning to open a nearly new shop similar to the ESRA shops in Raanana and Kfar Saba. I approached Nina Zuck, who was behind this project and offered to help in any way I could. I told her of my years of experience in my father's shop, and she told me that she remembered visiting her grandfather's shop, Rifkin & Miller, at the corner of Main and Station Roads, Wynberg.
Was this a coincidence? The three of us – Alice, née Goldstein, the shop manager Morris Maze and the one behind it all, Nina née Rifkin, all come from Wynberg, a suburb of Cape Town. We all grew up as part of that warm, closely knit, Litvak based Jewish community, dividing our lives between the culture around us and our own strong Jewish background.
I often recall my dad scolding me for reading a book in the shop. He would remind me that the shelves needed repacking, and if I dared to say, “they're tidy enough,” or “I did them two days ago,” his quick rejoinder would be, “in the shop you work, at home you can read.”
There'll be no time for reading in the new ESRA shop. We're constantly receiving bags of donated goods which need sorting and folding, and there'll be no rejoinders because we'll be so busy selling the stock.
Our parents would have concluded with In a gutte shoh – and we can add B'sha-a tova umutzlachat!
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