Yitzhak Navon Z”L – Childhood Memories
Yitzhak Navon was the 5th president of the State of Israel, a politician, a diplomat, and an author. He passed away on 6.11.16, at the age of 94.
His memories were include in the 2015 “My Family Story” catalog, “Stories from Jewish Leaders. (CLICK HERE TO BUY THE CATALOG):
“My mother knew how to prepare seven types of Cholent. She would clean, peal, cut, sew bags for rice, boil, dip, taste and at long last we would entrust our fate to that of the cook’s.
A family legend, through the generations, tells how my ancestors left Turkey where they settled following the expulsion of the Jews from Spain. In the second half of the 17th century, during one of the Balkan wars, a mule loaded with two heavy bags filled with gold entered the Navon family courtyard. Greatly fearful that enemy troops would return to search for it and take revenge, they decided to divide the treasure and leave the city. One brother arrived in Jerusalem and I am his descendent.
My mother’s family, Ben-Atar, also originally from Spain, emigrated from Morocco. They came from a long line of rabbis and nagids. My grandfather, Rabbi Yakov Ben Atar, decided to move to Jerusalem. In 1884, together with his wife Channah, and their daughter Miriam, my mother, aged four, moved there.
My parents married and when I turned three we moved to the Sheikh Badr neighborhood. During the winter months, on Fridays, my brother and I were responsible for carrying the Cholent pot which my mother cooked in the oven at the Mahane Yehuda neighborhood. My mother knew how to prepare seven types of cholent. She would clean, peel, cut, sew bags for rice, boil, dip, taste and at long last we would entrust our fate to that of the cook’s.
The next day, on Shabbat after prayers, we would return to the oven. We picked up the pot and carried it home. From a distance I could see my father watching from the terrace, waiting. He would immediately set to work removing the ropes tied to the lid of the pot, and check how the cholent turned out. If it was beautiful, he would bless the cook and wish him good health and long life. But if he found that the cholent was in question, he would rain curses on the head of the poor cook. Mother would try to salvage something from the burnt pot and would say in Spanish: “Guerra, Guerra! (War, War!)”.