Timewarp: What’s New

'We went one Tuesday to enquire about this very point from the shop-owners around the Knesset.'

Historical Jewish Press 521 (photo credit: HJP.org.il)
Historical Jewish Press 521
(photo credit: HJP.org.il)
As it is quite difficult to find out anything about Government ministers and members of the Knesset from the speeches and shouted remarks which are scrupulously published in the Minutes of the Knesset, we went one Tuesday to enquire about this very point from the shop-owners around the Knesset: We started, naturally, with Mr. Michael Genger, the lessee of the Knesset restaurant. We were sent to him by his wife, who was suspicious about the whole affair and who found nothing to say but “You can write this: members of the Knesset eat very well here. Healthy food, clean and home-made.” We told her that we are not writing advertising copy and that we needed details, so she sent us on to her husband.
Her husband wanted to start with the same sort of declaration and only after some persuasion agreed to tell us that: Levi Eshkol eats quickly and doesn’t care what; Shitreet is on a diet, eats mainly dairy products – cheese, sour cream, eggs, and cooked vegetables; Ben-Gurion doesn’t eat meat or much bread, prefers fish and Tnuva products; Golda Myerson usually has lunch at home, she likes English tea and cakes. The Minister of Agriculture, fittingly enough, likes wholesome farm products – eggs, cheese, sour cream, milk. MK Guri is a vegetarian, eats salads and dry bread and drinks weak tea. Yigal Alon will eat anything you give him. Mikunis eats meat for lunch and dairy food for supper. Surprisingly enough, Moshe Sneh, Wilner and Wilenska all follow exactly the same routine.
We asked Mr. Genger if there were any gourmets among the Knesset members.
“No,” said Mr. Genger. “They like simple Jewish food. There are ministers who eat a lot and there are ministers who eat less. But what? Everybody likes soup mit kreplach. On Wednesdays I make soup mit kreplach and you should see how they attack it. On Tuesdays they also are happy. Why? Because I make farfel mit kishkeh. And you know what? Even members of the left wing parties like it very much. The ministers are very modest and they are not snobs and that helps my work a lot. They serve themselves and never complain. Prices are very moderate here. A meal with chicken is only IL 1.600, and a standard meal IL 1.–. The Knesset personnel get a glass of tea for seven piastres. I have very good food, believe me.
Why don’t you taste some farfel mit kishkeh? You’ll see – it’s heaven!” We thanked Mr. Genger and left the Knesset.
We never eat farfel mit kishkeh when we’re on the job. We walked into the greengrocery opposite the Knesset and asked the owner, a 50-year-old Sephardi, whether members of the Knesset ever came into his shop. “What Knesset?” he asked. “Who Knesset? What you want from my life? I have nothing to do with the Knesset.”
The woman who owns Cafe Taamon next door said that many MKs have coffee in her place when they want to be alone, but that she didn’t know their names. We didn’t get any cooperation from the Ora pharmacy.
The owner and a woman in a white jacket who was concocting some prescription behind the counter refused to tell us a thing.
They said that many MKs and ministers patronized the pharmacy but that they couldn’t, oh they definitely couldn’t, tell us what they bought. We told them that we were not interested in serious diseases, that we would only like to know who bought aspirin or sleeping pills. Nothing doing. All we extracted from them was the information that ministers and Supreme Court judges get their medicaments free; that is, the Ministry of Health pays for them.
Our success wasn’t very great at the Dahlia Florist Shop either. The owner, a woman who was busy arranging a bouquet of cultured narcissi, is a model of discretion. “In the flower business,” she said, “there are many secrets. Many MKs buy flowers here, but I can’t give you their names. Perhaps someone buys a bouquet for a beautiful young girl while he has a wife at home.
Maybe his wife will read in the paper that her husband bought flowers, and she will say, ‘Oh, I see you bought flowers in Jerusalem. For whom did you buy the flowers, my Rosenkavalier?’ You see, it might be unpleasant. Flowers in themselves are discreet and dangerous.”
Salon Robert, hairdressers for gentlemen and ladies, is the last shop in the line. Mr. Robert, the owner, a middle-aged gentleman wearing a white jacket with a long, narrow comb protruding from his pocket, who is immaculately coiffured and shaved, handed us over to a young barber named Yehuda.
He was full of interesting information. “Levi Eshkol takes off very little hair,” he said, “and he always complains about the price.
Zalman Aranne nothing special. Frenchstyle.
The usual. Minister of Posts used to like a very short cut. Now he likes it longer.
It makes a good impression.
“I once cut Ben-Gurion’s hair in the Eden Hotel. Oh, he has a special haircut. Zisling cuts his hair more or less like Ben-Gurion.
Yona Kesse does’t like barbers. Israel Galili only shaves here. I shaved Yigal Alon a few times. He once told me ‘Dir balak with the razor. I have a knife too.’ So I told him, ‘Tell me when you don’t have a knife or a gun?’ So he laughed.
“Dr. Foerder is a regular client, cuts his hair, shaves, everything. There are many who come here for shampoo too, yes indeed. Why not. Moshe Sneh shaves here.
Doesn’t let us touch his moustache. Israel Rokach has his complet here: cuts his hair, shaves, shampoo, eau de cologne, cream, everything. Golda Myerson doesn’t want anything. You know she has a kuku, that bun in the back.”
It seems that some MKs even have manicures at Salon Robert, and one of them, believe it or not, gets a pedicure too, but we won’t disclose their names. We too can be discreet. Besides, who knows, maybe we can use our knowledge for political pressure.
Imagine shouting at a speaker: “Down with you! Go get your manicure!”
– By arrangement with “Ma’ariv.”