Israel Stories

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Butcher

Grosny, I think that was his name, was a butcher. ‘Was’ in the past tense, because now he works in a hardware shop. What is immediately noticeable about Grosny is his lack of fingers. According to doctors and I know this because I’ve seen it, the average number of fingers on a human hand is five. The average human therefore has ten fingers and that covers most of us, but not Grosny, he has six fingers, three on each hand. Grosny is ‘digitally’ challenged.

Back in Mother Russia, Grosny was a butcher. Quite a good a butcher as it happens. He claims to be able to identify any meat from any animal, the cut and the average price. He includes in his repertoire of animal facts, pigs, rabbits, game bird and most other delicacies alien to the average Israeli menu.

Finger number one was sadly and brutally severed during the old Russian butchers favorite pastime of, what can only be loosely translated as ‘speed mincing’, how much meat can you mince in five minutes. Grosny was in hospital for five weeks while they desperately tried to save his minced finger. Needless to say his little joke with people is ‘I am Israeli now but they’ll always be a part of me in Russia’.

Finger number two was amazingly lost in exactly the same way a year later. Trying to beat his own personal best he forgot that fingers were actually disqualified and subtracted from the total weight of mince.

Unable to handle a meat cleaver affectively and not being ambidextrous, Grosny found a new job at a sawmill. At this point I let out a huge laugh only to be met by Grosny’s irritated look. He obviously had received many laughs at this point of his story. The Ukranian sawmill had no need of fingerless Grosny and I suspect the insurance was crippling, two more fingers gone; ashes to ashes sawdust to sawdust.

When the chance came for aliyah, Grosny couldn’t get here fast enough. Armed with his mothers Ketubah (yes, he’s the one) he went to the Jewish Agency to start the process. Unbelievably, he told them his profession was a surgeon! The poker faced pen pusher looked at Grosny and at his fingers, told him he obviously wasn’t a very good one and stamped his application papers! At this point when I laughed he joined in.

Fingerless Grosny made his way to Bet Shemesh, first he worked as a general laborer for a local car mechanic and it was lehitra’ot to finger number five. Apparently he misjudges the weight of a car engine, thought he could catch one as it somehow fell to the ground. Very messy, but I am told the ceremony was very touching.

Finally finger number six gave up the fight when Grosny unaware of his inability to chop vegetable without all five fingers on one hand said shalom to another digit.
Maybe that’s how it happened, maybe not but it’s a great story.

Grosny smiled, you don’t believe me do you. Well believe this. Aliyah was the best choice I ever made. In Russia I lost four fingers here in Israel only two. Things are looking up!


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