Not only sheep get shorn

My husband and I got a haircut today. Not the kind that the financial analysts have been talking about for the past week, but a real lowering of the ears.

For almost a decade we’ve been going to the same barber to get our hair cut: His name is Ya’acov, and he looks and moves as though he’s over 80, though my husband assures me he’s not a day over 72.

I first met Ya’acov in 1985, when I was researching a story on Jerusalem’s Bukharan Quarter, where he grew up. But it took me more than 15 years to try his scissor skills.

I see Ya’acov about three times a year, when my hair has reached a length that makes me hate it. Then I get shorn as short as Ya’acov can manage, and I’m happy for the next couple of months. The third month is transitional; I can still live with my hair. But the fourth month is awful. I hate looking in the mirror and can’t wait to see Ya’acov.

Each time I see him, he’s a little more bent over, and his shuffle is more pronounced. His shop is on trendy Gaza Road, but there is nothing trendy about him or his shop. It has real barbershop chairs, but they show that they’ve been sat on for more than half a century. The furnishings are shabby and the only light comes through the front window.

And yet, professors, Knesset members (even two generations in the same family), and a host of others keep coming back. The radio is always on to a news station, so you can keep up with the latest while you wait. And there are plenty of books, not to mention Newsweek and a couple of Hebrew dailies.

Some women relax at the hairdresser’s. I don’t. I’ve met hairdressers who think they’re entertainers. I can’t abide them. But I like Ya’acov because he remembers where my children live, even the ones he hasn’t met, and where I was going on my last work trip. I like him because he doesn’t gab or gossip. He’s an intelligent, well-read man who doesn’t impose his views on anyone who doesn’t want to hear them. And he does a damn good job on my hair.

I hope he lives and keeps his shop going to 120.

A word about where words came from

Today I also took the giant step of signing up for a 15-session course on the origins and development of language. It’s being offered by the Bible Lands Museum, where I took a fascinating course on the ancient Near East a few years ago. The lecturers are top-notch, but the talks are not overly technical.

You will be hearing more about this course, which begins November 2.

Text copyright 2011 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text may be used without written permission of the author.

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3 Responses to “Not only sheep get shorn”

  1. Marilyn Bono Says:

    Esther, have you read ” French Lessons ” by Alice Kaplan ? Marcia Greenfeld recommended it – and it is a wonderful memoir, full of linguistic and socio-cultural musings that I think you would find, as I did, fascinating.

    Keep up this great Blog.

    ~Marilyn

  2. Judy Labensohn Says:

    Looking forward to hearing about the course, Esther. It sounds fascinating. PLease take good notes.

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