The Ehrlich family was only moving from one side of Cherry Hill to the other, but packing up your house is never easy, even if you’re just moving across the street. When Zack and Julie Ehrlich moved into their house on Surrey Road seven years earlier, Julie had said to Zack, “I hope you really like this house, because we are never moving again. Ever.” But it’s funny how things work out. When Chaim was born last year, their cozy house started feeling kind of cramped for their four children. And Brian was not so excited about sharing a room with his baby brother. Then the house on Belmont Drive became available, with more living space, an updated kitchen and room for a ping pong table in the basement, and suddenly the thought of moving didn’t seem so daunting. The Ehrlichs put a bid on the new house two days after they saw it and closed within a month.
When it came closer to their moving date, Zack and Julie started looking for a moving company. They received a lot of advice from their friends.
“Go for the cheapest.”
“Go for the best. Don’t worry about the price.”
“Only pay by the hour.”
“Use a flat-rate company.”
“Only hire Israelis.”
“Never hire Israelis.”
The Ehrlichs wanted to make sure their move was done with professionalism and finesse. They had the usual breakables in their house—the computer, television and stereo equipment, the silver and the china—but they also had the exotic to consider. Julie’s mother had given them her collection of the snow globes of the 50 states (Idaho had ski mountains and floating potato pieces), and if any of them broke, she would be, well, shattered.
The Internet had an overwhelming number of movers to choose from. Shleppers didn’t sound bad. Movers and Shakers was a definite no. Starving Artist Movers sounded too desperate. Man with Truck was too generic. Samson Movers had a nice biblical quality, but Zack vetoed them because the story ended badly. The Moving Doctor sounded pricey, and they probably made you wait a long time. Split Second Moving seemed a bit abrupt. Mark, Chip and Nick Movers was out of the question.
Someone at work told Julie about a mover they had used that did an excellent job. Julie took down their number and called them for a price quote. Their representative came to meet with the Ehrlichs early on a Sunday morning.
Shimmy Levy of Levy and Sons Movers was a small fellow with broad shoulders. When Zack opened the door he was standing on the front stoop in a clean blue and white Levy and Sons tee-shirt and torn jeans. He shook Zack’s hand with the crushing grip one would expect of a veteran mover.
“Hello, Mr. Ehrlich.”
“Hi, Shimmy, come on in.”
Shimmy Levy sat down on the couch and looked around at the living room.
“Nice place you have here.”
“I figure this should be a pretty straightforward job.”
“Good. We’re only moving about five blocks away, over to Belmont Drive.”
“So I hear. That should be no problem. We handle long- and short-distance moves.”
“Terrific. May I ask how long your company has been in business?”
“You might say we’ve been movers for generations.”
“That sounds great,” Zack said.
Shimmy took out his company’s brochure and started to outline his services.
“Essentially, Mr. And Mrs. Ehrlich, our company is divided into three divisions, G., K. and M. The K. division is responsible for your fragile items and your valuables. They will transport them and guarantee their safety, providing you pack them yourselves.
“The G. division is in charge of window treatments, like curtains and any lacework. They also take care of the lion’s share of the lighter furniture.
“The M. division’s staff are the go-to guys for all the heavy lifting. They carry the heaviest furniture, including any architectural elements, like pillars or structural planks that need to go with you to your new location.”
Zack and Julie studied Shimmy’s brochure closely and tried to follow along with what he was saying, but it all seemed very complicated.
“Is this strict division of labor really necessary?” Julie asked.
Shimmy smiled. “Of course. We’ve been doing it this way forever, and as long as we all know our roles, it goes off like clockwork.”
“Wouldn’t it just be easier for everyone to just pick up whatever is in front of them and pile it on the truck?” Zack asked.
“No, ours is definitely the best way. The descendants of Gershon, Kehat and Merari wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Now I get it,” Julie said. “You’re Levy and Sons.”
Shimmy smiled again. “So few customers figure it out for themselves.”
“I still don’t get it,” Zack said.
“Honey, they’re Levites, from the tribe of Levi.”
“So they were responsible for packing up and transporting the Tabernacle when it was moved in the desert. And each of Levi’s sons’ descendants was responsible for part of the process. If I remember correctly, Kehat’s family was responsible for the sacred vessels from the Kodesh Hakadashim, the inner sanctum of the Mishkan. So I guess that’s why the K. Division handles the valuables.”
“Exactly,” Shimmy said.
“And the customers pack the valuables themselves because—”
“Because the sons of Kehat didn’t approach the holy vessels, like the Aron Kodesh and the Menorah, until the Cohanim had packed them away,” Shimmy said.
“Wow, that’s so authentic,” Zack observed.
“We’re the real deal,” Shimmy said.
“So is the price of the move different if we need more Kehat and less Merari, or say a preponderance of Gershon is required?” Julie asked.
“No, it’s a flat rate,” Shimmy said.
“Yes. In the time of the Tabernacle all the Levi’im regarded their work as equally sacred, whether they were carrying the Gold Altar for the sacrifices, or the planks of the Tabernacle walls. They considered all of God’s commandments equally important, and so they all performed their roles with zeal. So we try to do our work the same way.”
“That’s just great,” Julie said. “We are definitely hiring you.”
“Thanks. We appreciate the business,” Shimmy said.
“So tell me,’ Zach said. “If this is all Levite run, and it’s all based on the way the tribe of Levi used to transport the Mishkan, is our payment tax deductible, kind of like ma’aser?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
By Larry Stiefel