06 May 2012

The Bubbie of Ma’ale Levona and her Brownies


י'ב באייר התשע''ב

4 May, 2012
Copyright © R. Kossover, 2012
 Published originally as a Note on Facebook

            Ma’ale Levona is a small village at the summit of Levona in Samaria off of Highway 60, a few kilometers west of Sinjel and Jiljiliya.

            When the Ernst family moved to Ma’ale Levona in August 2000, they didn’t realize what they were getting into.  They didn’t understand terms like "Green Line", Kav Tefer (the "Seam Line") or the nature of how Jews and non-Jews got along – or rather didn’t get along – with each other.  Truth is, Jews and non-Jews deemed to get along rather well - until the First Intifada over 20 years ago.  That's how it seems to veterans living here in the village.  

    I guess I forgot to mention.  We also live in Ma'ale Levona.  But we haven't lived here for 20 years or so.

            A day or two before Rosh Hashanah that year, Ariel Sharon took his “stroll” on the Temple Mount, an event used by the PA to spark off rock throwing incidents, shootings and bombings, - all of which became known as the Second Intifada.  On Rosh Hashanah, the village rabbi, Ya’ir Shahor, appeared on the bima in the synagogue in full uniform, complete with gun, to conduct prayers.  Our neighbor, who was not yet the Bubbie of Ma’ale Levona, was in total and absolute shock.

            A few days later, several squads of regular army soldiers appeared in the village – doing nightly patrol, sitting at the gate guarding, and surveying the neighboring non-Jewish villages, like Sharkiya al-Luban, and patrol roads that surround the village.  This was when Aviva Ernst called her baking skills into play, baking pan after pan of brownies for the soldiers, usually 8 or 9 pans daily and more on Fridays, for one is forbidden to bake on the Sabbath.

            According to Aviva, this went on for months and months, as Ma’ale Levona is in the midst of Gush Shilo, where many shootings and rock throwing incidents took place during the height of the Second Intifada.  Many residents were injured, some severely, from these incidents.  Her husband, Yitzhak, would go into Jerusalem and buy SOG brand multi-tools and pairs of army socks, which he would give as gifts to soldiers guarding the village.  He bought so many of these multi-tools that he eventually became known in Jerusalem as “Saba Sog”, - or “Grandpa SOG”.  Aviva, the baker of brownies, gradually became known as the Bubbie, the grandma, of Ma’ale Levona.  Doing guard duty became a pleasure because Aviva makes good brownies; she saw to it that those sitting in the guard’s shack on the road into the village were always supplied.  And thank G-d, there were no infiltrations of the village, which is hard to get into, the way it is located on the Summit of Levona

            Eventually, the Intifada subsided and bit by bit, the soldiers have been withdrawn, and Aviva’s brownies became gifts to neighbors, and Yitzhak’s multi-tools and army socks, gifts to new soldiers like my son.  But her brownies are still delicious, and now the Bubbie of Ma’ale Levona makes baby- blanket after baby-blanket for the many Jewish babies born around here and all over the world.  In fact, just yesterday, Saba Sog sent a couple off to London.  As for me, I'm waiting to be a grandpa myself one day - then the Bubbie of Ma'ale Levona can make a baby blanket for our grandkid...

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