Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

Today Marcela reads a story containing the writer Yossel Birstein’s two great loves: Buses and Shoes.

Birstein was born in Poland in 1920. Having moved to Melbourne, Australia and later to Israel, he changed languages, continents, countries, towns, as well as professions, more than once or twice. Not many people work both as a shepherd and a national archivist in their lives. He wrote most of his life in Yiddish and began to write Hebrew later.

“He didn’t call himself a writer, but rather a craftsman,” Haim Be’er says about Yossel Birstein. Be’er continues:

We would be walking in Jerusalem and talking about our profession. He said that he had learned to sew from his father. That if a thread in a shoe tore, you had to start everything from scratch, because where would the knot be? If you make it on the upper part of the shoe, it will be visible, and if you make it on the sole, it will make walking uncomfortable. In his writing, he realized this ability to connect the threads without the stitch being visible.


“Customer On the Way” from And So Is The Bus. Jerusalem Stories, translated by Margaret Birstein, Hana Inbar, and Robert Manaster. Dryad Press, 2015.

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