The town of Chełm decided to build a new synagogue. So, some strong, able-bodied men were sent to a mountaintop to gather heavy stones for the foundation. The men put the stones on their shoulders and trudged down the mountain to the town below. When they arrived, the town constable yelled, "Foolish men! You should have rolled the stones down the mountain!" The men agreed this was an excellent idea. So they turned around, and with the stones still on their shoulders, trudged back up the mountain, and rolled the stones back down again.
Allow me to introduce myself. Earl Shugerman is my name. I am a proud immigrant to Israel of five years. I moved to Israel at age of fifty eight from Colorado. Why did I make this dramatic change in my life? There are many reasons. The most important is that I firmly believe that the return of the Jewish people to the land of our roots is destiny. It is a destiny with spiritual, religious, social, and political implications that have already proven to have historical implications. Haifa was my choice of city in this incredibly complicated and diverse nation.
Haifa (Hebrew: חֵיפָה, Hebrew pronunciation: [χeiˈfä], Ḥefa; Arabic: حيفا Ḥayfā) is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Haifa is a mixed city: 90% are Jews, more than a quarter of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, while 10% are Arabs, predominantly of the Christian faith. It is also home to the Baha'i World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the history of settlement at the site spans more than 3,000 years. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands numerous times. It has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British, and the Israelis. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality. The weather is balmy although a bit cold at times in the winter. There are two major universities, a large and well known tech center and lots of parks and fun things to do. My famous place to hike is Park Carmel. Our region’s most famous resident was Elijah the Prophet. He reportedly lived his nomadic live in the Carmel Mountain Range.
I have enjoyed many blessings and faced many obstacles in adjusting to my new home. One of the greatest obstacles to overcome is to learn a new language especially at my age.
Israel offers newcomers the opportunity to study in an Ulpan. The Ulpan is a four hour a day program where new immigrants study Hebrew and receive some orientation to their new homeland. Private tutoring is available at a fee. I chose to both attend the Ulpan and receive private tutoring. My tutor Elinor Kimmel used the children’s stories about the citizens of Chelm as our study guide.
Almost every culture around the world has developed stories about fools in their midst. It’s a way of gently poking fun at themselves. In Jewish folklore we find a wonderful mythical town in Poland called Chelm located in Poland in the days of old. The residents are usually happy, gentle folk who also share another virtue – they are considered fools by everyone living outside of Chelm. But the Chelmites know they are the great sages of the world, the brightest of bright. Stories of the Chelmites have adorned Jewish humor and folklore for centuries.
…Two men of Chelm went out for a walk, when suddenly it began to rain. “Quick,” said one. “Open your umbrella.”It won’t help,” said his friend. “My umbrella is full of holes.”
“Then why did you bring it? “I didn’t think it would rain!”…
My favorite cafe in Haifa is the Ego Panorama. The owner is a long time resident of Haifa named Hannah. Hannah’s family came to Israel in 1948 from Poland. They were fortunate and thankful to have escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. I sat down yesterday to eat and study my beloved Chelm stories at The Ego. Hannah came over to me and began to giggle in a good natured way. “My family is from Chelm” she informed me with great glee. Chelm exists! It is a nice sized community in Poland of no particular distinction other than its contribution to the world of humor.
The greatest joy that I have derived from my immigration to Israel is learning about the great diversity of culture and history that this nation has to offer. I can visit the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem. And Tel Aviv in the same day! Israel is a nation of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and other citizens. In many cases we manage to live together with a fair degree of harmony. Israel is a nation of immigrants from virtually every nation on earth. It is common to sit at The Ego and listen to fellow diner’s converse in several languages!