This book describes in detail the daily life of Ezra Siman Tov, a humble and pious laundry presser. He lives in the old Nahlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem just as modernity is about to come to the area. Ezra Siman Tov’s days revolve around thrice-daily prayer and learning at a few local synagogues, his work at the laundry, grocery shopping at the Mahane Yehuda market and his meals and rest at home. He has a very loving relationship with his wife, Madame Sarah, a modest aishet chayil (woman of valour), who is his soul mate. This small book is packed with the local color of Jerusalem and of Ezra’s Sephardic community of immigrants from Allepo. Ezra looks up to the Hahamim, wise men or leaders of his local synagogues, but he also befriends the members of a local Ashkenazic synagogue.
Ezra Siman Tov is a story-teller whose stories are hard to resist, and though they are simple they have a lasting impact on the listeners. There is a mysterious great writer in the neighborhood who always wants to hear Ezra’s tales, but there are some, including Ezra’s professor brother-in-law, who don’t appreciate the depth of character behind the simplicity of Ezra’s demeanor. Ezra’s relationship with his childhood friend, Rahamim, adds a touch of intrigue.
Though he lives a pious and seemingly perfect life, Ezra is troubled by past tragedies which he yearns to resolve. The book is written in a pleasing, slow-paced, old-fashioned style. There are many references to prayers and scripture but no glossary or explanatory notes.