Earl Shugerman will bring every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.
The Shulamit Hotel
by Earl Shugerman
We’re sitting at our favorite outdoor café the Toot drinking Coffee and enjoying the beautiful weather of Haifa. We are amongst a cordial neighbourhood named Kiryat Sefer.
Our server Chen is a native born Israeli or Sabra, who is finishing her degree in Social Sciences at the University of Haifa.
Kiryat Sefer is an upper middle class community in the Horev area of Haifa. Horev is an alternate appellate for Sinai, where Moses received the Torah and the Ten Commandments. It is located on the bus route to the University of Haifa and two Druze Villages about 30 miles South of this quaint and sedate residential center. This wonderful community is a perfect blend of beautiful apartments, a large array of mid-priced restaurants, and upper-end shopping at a local mall. In Israel, medical and dental care is universal. Their facilities are dotted throughout every community. It is even possible to receive care at virtually any time. Due to the nation’s socialized health care system, health care costs are 20% of most western nations. The quality of care competes with virtually any nation in the world.
My editor and I live at the Shulamit Hotel, an institution of Haifa originally built in 1953 by the Feldman family. The Hotel originally had twelve rooms and was named after the owner’s daughter Shulamit. At the hotel’s prime, the desk clerk Debby mentioned that the capacity of the Hotel was 300 residents. Famous dignitaries such as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin visited this pristine establishment. The Hotel is now a Hotel/Motel that has monthly and short term residents.
What a pleasant surprise to an American immigrant! The Hotel is within walking distance of a Pizza hut, Domino’s, and McDonald’s. Many other restaurants of various culinary tastes and price ranges are also close by. There is an English Bookstore named Lias Books, which is owned and managed by three Vatekot (veterans) from the UK. The Bookstore serves as both a source reading material and impromptu welcome wagon for Anglo immigrants. The city Zoo is a 15 minute walk or short bus ride. The world famous B’hai center is also a short bus trip.
The combined residential and transitional nature of our hotel community offers an endless series of social adventures. Today, I met a retired Florida resident who just finished a six week volunteer nursing program in Beer Sheva. Yesterday, a group ofNigerian sailors were guests of the Hotel. Last week I met a representative of the E.U. at our local Pizza Hut. Hotel residents include a graduate student in Biblical Archaeology, a retired Brazilian businessman, an American born school-teacher, and a certified massage therapist. At any given time, you can sit in the Hotel Lobby and listen to conversations spoken in multiple languages.
Local residents are quick to “adopt” newcomers, as most of our neighbours immigrated to Israel after its founding in 1948. My closest friend Maggie and her family own the community hair salon and are dedicated to ending my single male status. They have a Siberian Husky named Bella, who is my best friend. Morad, who works at the nearby eaterie Pesto, owns the adoring Meshi. Israelis love dogs and cats.
Muslim residents compose one fourth of our community, a reflection of life in Israel. We all live together cordially. Israel has 33 political parties. At any time at any cafe or social gathering it seems like 3300 views are being expressed. There is an apocryphal tale which illuminates this point. Then Israeli Premier Golda Meir met with her US counterpart Richard Nixon. She had encountered problems passing legislation. Nixon tried to enforce the view that she was the Prime Minister and that she was immune from any potential obstacles. Meir responded simply by stating that she was the Prime Minister of 3 million Prime Ministers.
Coming to you live from Haifa’s famous Toot Café it’s Earl and Harvey!