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remembering Haifa

No, it's the opposite of getting caught in a web like this. Although this country has at times felt exactly like this, to me.

Four great things happened to me in Haifa. One of them went home on the train. But that didn't matter quite so much, I have learned how to recognize "Monday" in Hebrew and had a wonderful train time just now, and I say "Tu Da" all the time [= thank you.]

Last night at the restaurant I had this waiter, Shmuel. S was anxious and somewhat inept [and endearing] as he explained the bill to me in halting English.

Then we began to talk. His English got lots better. He'd been trying to be formal with me.

He's 18, born in Haifa, through with high school. I asked him about the army.

Turns out he is a Christian. So the army says service is optional. He wanted to enlist because he feels his country is threatened by enemies and he wants to defend it.

A further problem is he is the first-born son, he has two sisters, so he has to apply to get *IN* to the army. His mom won't sign the application.

Israel is a very very strange place to get any understanding of religious interaction. [Inter-religious hatred, well, that's another thing.] If you're an IDF recruiter, I guess it all makes sense.

So he is going off to study medicine in Rome [Italy] and become a doctor.

Brad: "Then you could go anywhere, practice in Europe or America!"
Shmuel: "No, I want to come back here. We need doctors in Haifa."

So it occurs to Brad that Shmuel wants to help save lives as a doctor rather than erase them as a tank commander. So he tells him that.

Shmuel: "Yes."

I didn't give him enough, in comparison to what he had just given me. The tip was about 80% [which means essentially I paid him twice for the same meal. I also asked him --- first --- if he would please accept that for his studies.] He was kind of overwhelmed. I explained about my students from Vietnam and Poland, now both in med careers, and how I'd been a tutor in a med school in New England.

It occurred to me later that this was a prelude. Shmuel, 18 and headed for realizing his dream of a med career. Anna, 16 and 17, with all her thorny problems and anguish and suicides, and also working her butt off to get scores high enough to realize her dream of starting her career in college in America. She moaned and groaned about all that work *A LOT* in her LJ. It turned out to be the one single event in her life where some positive dreams got achieved. Why? Because some tutor, prob a bunch of them, cared, and cared a whole lot, and showed her they did, and kept pushing her to work harder. Not pushing one or two days, pushing for weeks + months.

It was another set of dreams I had been helping her with, that last week we were together.

And in less than two days I will be right at that school in the war zones / West Bank. That's the "prelude" part of last night.

So Shmuel will be with me for a long time too.

======

In other news, I came back to Jeruslaem through Ramat Gan, where I bought my plane tix for Amsterdam. That won't mean much to anyone except one more of you. Writing her right now!

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
logicalargument
Sep. 8th, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
If I ever return to live in Israel again (I lived there briefly as a kid) I would choose to live in Haifa, within sight of Mt. Carmel and the Shrine of the Bab. It's strange how a smell composed primarily of rotting fish and garbage can become a smell that says "home."
silverplate88
Sep. 8th, 2008 01:26 pm (UTC)

Wow, Ellen, didn't know you had lived here!

It's a very beautiful place in real life, much more than the travelog / PR photos. Especially at night. Didn't get any smells like that, though. Maybe things have changed or I was in a different district?

I know next to nothing about the Bah'ai faith but the terraces and blossoms and plants are among the most beautifuly laid out, and maintained, in the world.
elvenforever
Sep. 8th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
*hugs* You touch lives wherever you go.

That is how you revolutionize the world, if such is your goal...one life at a time. :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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kiota too late for the stars
silverplate88
Moonfire Marion Bridge / Brad

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