I think we’re all trying to be considerate of each other. As my father said, “We became such good friends!”
Chayala is 16 years old and lives a 15-minute drive from Yerushalayim. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Chayala’s mother had a baby boy (joining his 9 sisters and 4 brothers!) and the family made a beautiful home-catered bris in their living room. During that time, Chayala’s beloved grandfather was in critical condition from the virus, and after Pesach he was niftar. It was a very emotional time for Chayala and her family.
As a bilingual teenager, what’s the funniest language mix-up you’ve ever encountered?
Oh, gosh, there are waaaaay too many to even choose. There was a kid I babysat for who told me, “I’m DO gonna get!” when I said I didn’t know if she was going to get a treat. But we have a funny expression in our house: “Atah noheg oti egozim!” Which makes absolutely no sense at all in Hebrew, but if you translate each word separately, it means “You’re driving me nuts!”
What was your family’s attitude during the lockdown in Eretz Yisrael?
We were pretty chilled even though we were being careful since the very beginning. Even now my mother makes sure we all disinfect our hands and keep “shtei metter” (six feet) from other people. On the other hand, we became so close to each other at home! We play a lot of family games, overall the attitude at home is loving and warm, and I think we’re all trying to be considerate of each other. As my father said, “We became such good friends!” The other day my older sister commented that now we actually know each other. Usually the boys are in yeshivah all day and by the time the girls who are in high school and above get home the younger ones are going to bed. These days we’re all together all day.
If you were able to travel back in time and meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
That’s an easy one: It would definitely be my grandfather who was just niftar, who I miss terribly. He lived in America, so I hadn’t seen him for a while, and then he was niftar. I wouldn’t need to have any major DMCs with him, I would just want to be in his presence. He had a way of looking at a grandchild, even the very young ones, with such interest that you felt like you were definitely his favorite grandchild! Even when I was a little kid, he took all my questions seriously and answered me as if we were equals. I think just having a chance to spend time with him for a little while would be special to me.
When you have your own home, im yirtzeh Hashem, how much responsibility do you think you’ll give your teenagers?
I hope I’ll be able to keep just the right balance, like my parents are doing for me and my siblings. We’re all expected to pitch in, but it’s always fair. I also think it has to do with each kid individually. If we really don’t like doing something my parents will be understanding and ask us to help out some other way.
If you had to spend $1,000 on something for your siblings, what would you spend it on?
I would order a huge tent and a hundred games and put it up in the backyard and lock them in there so I could get some quiet. (Yeah, I’m saying this only because I’m the older sister and that’s what I’m expected to say…. )
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 818)
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