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Lazarre Seymour Simckes

A Preview of Coming Attractions For Olim

A few days before I made Aliyah to Israel I encountered a little Israeli girl on a Yale shuttle bus who prefigured the high energy of the Israeli spirit I would soon face on a daily basis as a new immigrant.

She boarded the bus with her father. He was a tall man pulling a large suitcase. She was no more than three years old, but acted like his wife of many years.

As she jumped onto the seat facing me she kicked my knee. Her father told her to say sorry. But she wouldn’t. I quickly released her from that obligation, claiming it didn’t bother me. But the father insisted. “Say you’re sorry!”

The girl changed the subject and said, “Put the suitcase near me.”

“No,” he said. “I’m keeping it with me.”

“Why?”

“That’s where it belongs.”

“Why?”

“I want it here.”

“Put the suitcase near me,” she screamed.

“No, it belongs here.”

“Why?”

“You are amazingly patient,” I told the father. “Having a child has made you a better man.”

He didn’t smile or say thank you, he simply said, “I don’t think so.”

When it turned out they were from Israel, I said a few words in Hebrew to the little girl. She looked at me with a blank expression. Her father explained, “She’s confused to hear Hebrew here.”

Then my stop arrived. So as I got up to leave I said bye-bye to the girl. She again gave me a blank stare, even though I had spoken in English, not Hebrew.

Her father told her, “Say goodbye.”

Instead she said, “I reason like my dad and scream like my mom.”

About the Author
Playwright, novelist, psychotherapist and translator from the Hebrew, Lazarre Seymour Simckes is a graduate of Harvard College, Stanford University, and Harvard University. He has taught literature and creative writing courses at Harvard, Yale, Williams, Vassar, Brandeis, Tufts, and abroad as a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Writer at Haifa University. He has also conducted a live, interactive writing workshop, delivered via satellite, linking Israeli Jewish and Arab high school students with their counterparts in America.