“So now what?” asks the caption at the beginning of a hilarious and inspiring five-minute video that follows 91-year-old Shimon Peres as he cleans out his former office and goes looking for a new job.
At the employment office, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former president and prime minister of Israel – who served in some sort of high level position since the founding of the modern state – is told he has no practical experience before being sent off on a series of job try-outs as a gas station attendant, security guard, supermarket cashier, pizza deliveryman, stand-up comedian, and skydiving instructor.
Interacting with the people he encounters at these various jobs, Peres – with wit, humour and economy of words – offers brief words of wisdom that touch on such themes as peace, hope, remarkable accomplishments like the Entebbe rescue, and Israel’s emergence as a high-tech start-up nation.
Watching the video, I was reminded of the three days in May 2012 I followed Peres – then the world’s oldest head of state – on his visit to Ottawa. I particularly remember standing a few feet away at the National Gallery of Canada, at a reception hosted by the Embassy of Israel, as he gave a riveting speech, which hit on many of the same themes as the video.
Along with several other topics, such as the enduring Canada-Israel friendship, Peres spoke without notes about the State of Israel – its past, its present and its future – about the changes then sweeping across the Middle East, and about science and technology, making predictions about breakthroughs to come well into the future. He even cracked some jokes foreshadowing his bit as a comedian in the video.
Peres was inspirational on his visit to Ottawa, and he is again in the video, which you can see at http://tinyurl.com/Peres-job.
The video ends with a quote from Peres, “You are as great as the cause that you serve, and as young as your dreams.” It is a reminder that Israel, our communities, whether there or here in the Diaspora, and all of us as individuals, have hopes and dreams that we must continue to strive toward.
Speaking of entertaining videos, YidLife Crisis, a new web series out of Montreal, has been sweeping the Jewish world over the past few weeks. Inspired by what creators Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion describe as the Yiddish rhythms and sensibilities inherent in such TV shows as Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Each five-minute episode – the first four are now online at www.yidlifecrisis.com – features Chaimie (Elman) and Leizer (Batalion), both in their 30s, engaged in often funny conversations and arguments in Yiddish (with English subtitles).
Echoing the discussions that used to take place between Jerry and George in the coffee shop on Seinfeld, Chaimie and Leizer’s encounters also take place over food in Mile End, Montreal’s old Jewish neighbourhood that is now a multicultural area equally famous for its Old World Chasids and New World hipsters.
In the first episode, Chaimie and Leizer break the Yom Kippur fast over poutine. In others, they meet for smoked meat and Greek food.
The best of the first four episodes has the pair walking from the iconic St. Viateur Street bagel bakery to the equally iconic bagel shop a few blocks away on Fairmount Avenue while engaged in Talmudic-like debate over which has the better bagel – an unresolvable argument familiar to almost anyone from Montreal. The pair of Chasidic men, about their same age, they encounter along the way appear to be engaged in actual Talmudic discussion.
Warning: Not everything Chaimie and Leizer eat is kosher and some of the dialogue is not for the easily offended. The series is rated “Chai+ (18 and over).”
The Shabbat Project
This issue of the Bulletin was originally scheduled for publication on October 27. However, we decided to publish five days early when we learned that all of Ottawa’s congregations will enthusiastically participate in The Shabbat Project, the worldwide observance of Shabbat taking place this weekend.
The entire community will then gather for a Havdallah service and celebration at the SJCC on Saturday night. We were able to make the change because we were working on an early production schedule due to Sukkot holiday closures.
It should be an extraordinary Shabbat in Ottawa, and around the world.