Remembering my grandmother and her backgammon board

By Gavriel Siman-Tov
Community shaliach

Backgammon, or as we call it in Israel, shes besh, is definitely in the top five of most Israelis’ games. You can find this game pretty much everywhere you go – at the beach, at the park, at the bar. Well, let’s just say it’s pretty common and most Israelis will know how to play, and I’ll dare to say one out of three will be really good at it because they played it since they were kids. 

My connection to this game is really deep because for me, it’s my grandmother’s (Tovah-Loba, z"l, my dad’s mom) game. She is the one who taught me how to play, and when I’m trying to remember visiting her, I always remember us playing backgammon. It was our game.

My grandmother passed away when I was 14 years old. Back at that time, I didn’t know how to process that. I didn’t know what to think or do. The only thing I knew is that I wanted to have something that reminds me of her, something we shared together, so I asked my dad if I could have the backgammon board we use to play on for so many hours. 

My grandmother taught me a lot, not only about backgammon, but also about life, about how to pursue life and never give up. Before I was born, her husband, my grandfather, passed away, and she wasn’t in good shape after that, but she never gave up. She wanted to live her life to the fullest, and that’s what she did.

She was a mother and an amazing grandmother, a great cook, and a really good backgammon player that I could never defeat. And most importantly, a great human being that spread good and happiness that made me the happiest grandson whenever I came to visit and taught me so much about life and about never giving up. 

Thank you, Savtha Loba.