There’s this snack called Halvah, it’s usually served as a candybar or in bite-sized chunks and it’s made out of sesame seed paste. I abhor it so much. I can deal with sesame seeds on burger buns but I really don’t like them, so biting into something that’s essentially a giant sesame seed, ugh. It’s meant as a treat but I consider it a treat like I’d consider a flu shot to be a fun adventure.
My paternal grandfather loved Halvah. One of the best memories I have of him was when I was 13 and went to Israel with both him and my Bubby (Yiddish for grandmother, my grandfather was Zadi [can also be spelled Zayde, I've always spelled it the other way and it's hard to break an old habit] which of course means grandfather, it’s what I called them). There was this deal with a tour company, if you flew to Israel and brought a teen to have their bar/bat mitzvah, the teen flew for free. I never wanted a bat mitzvah, but I ended up not having a choice in the matter. We stayed there for two weeks, and I actually enjoyed myself despite being convinced I’d hate it. I’m glad I paid attention to as much as possible, but I wish I could’ve gotten more photos. I didn’t take a camera everywhere anyway, but Bubby let my camera bag be scanned by airport security so most of the photos didn’t turn out.
During the second week, I caught a horrible cold. It was so bad that one day my grandparents decided to stay in the hotel to help take care of me, even though I was sleeping a lot at that point. Bubby went downstairs to get food for me and came back with a plate full of Halvah as well as stuff like bread & butter, pickled herring, and cherry tomatoes. I ate a little of everything but didn’t even go near the Halvah. While I ate my lunch, Bubby was fussing with something across the room, and while she was preoccupied Zadi snuck a piece of the Halvah and sat at the table happily munching on it. See, he was diabetic, so Bubby rarely let him have anything sweet. She came back over to see him eating it and shrieked that he’s not supposed to eat it and shouldn’t have taken such a big piece, and while she was trying to take it from him, he grumbled and fought while trying to finish it. I’m hoping I didn’t laugh then, but every time I look back on that trip and remember that moment, I laugh out loud.
It’s been almost 12 years since he passed away, but I know he laughs right along with me when I remember the defiant look on his face while he tried to cram the rest of the candybar in his mouth.