Connecting two very different places on Earth
November 22, 2019
Technology has brought the world ever closer together, but increasingly, political instability, terrorism and war reminds us how very far apart different places remain.
In 1963 when I made my first flight to Israel, our Air France flight had to stop in Paris to refuel in order to complete the journey to our destination. That trip to Israel from New York City took more than 18 hours. Today, that same route is nonstop and can be accomplished in under 10 hours and in greater comfort.
The same is true for international (and domestic) communications. When I first moved to Florida from New York, I only called home on Sundays when the long distance rates were lower.
We tricked the phone company, for which I continue to have no regrets or guilt, by calling person-to-person, knowing that whoever answered the phone would reject the call by telling the intervening operator the call’s intended recipient “was not at home.” Thereafter, I would make the less expensive station-to-station call to speak with my parents. Even then, our calls were brief because the cost of the call was also measured by the length of the conversation.
Today we have the benefit of unlimited calling and texting to pretty much anywhere in the world, much of which is free of charge. With WhatsApp and Facetime or Skype my wife and I speak, text and “see” our son, who lives in Tel Aviv, almost daily. It’s as if we are there living just around the corner from each other.
Early Tuesday morning a week ago, while my wife and I were soundly and peacefully asleep we were awakened at 1:01a.m. by a text message from my son, which demonstrated clearly and unambiguously that we do not live in the same neighborhood!
Here are pertinent parts of that conversation: (Note: There is a seven hour difference in time)
My SON: (1:01a.m.) FYI the IDF made a major strike in Gaza last night. Lots of rockets being fired today. Schools are closed in Israel, but I am going to work. Will let you know if anything happens, but this morning seems fine in Tel Aviv.
MY WIFE: Praying for Israel—stay safe.
MY SON: Sirens went off after I said that. Heard two booms from Iron Dome.
MY WIFE: In Tel Aviv?
MY SON: Now the sirens are off. Yea
MY WIFE: How is Monty? (My son’s newly acquired rescue puppy)
My SON: He’s fine. Sirens didn’t scare him.
MY WIFE: Glad he is OK—stay safe over there. Danger where you are.
MY SON: (2:43a.m.) It’s a gorgeous day here. (Sends photo of beautiful Tel Aviv skyline taken from his office) School closures just in the south and central Israel. My office is open but only a handful of people are here. I’m going to go home in a little while.
(4:08a.m.) Four Israeli Apache helicopters flying along the coast of Tel Aviv. (Sends photo) Once in a while you see one, but I have never seen four together in Tel Aviv...
While the above conversation embraces war and peace issues and our son’s safety and welfare, there is always a place in our hearts to worry about the welfare of a rescue puppy.
While we share our religion, peoplehood, traditions and heritage with the citizens of Israel, and for many of us our personal lives as well, Jewish Americans are not on the front lines battling for Jewish survival. That burden rests on the shoulders of our brothers and sisters living in Israel. They alone must determine what is in their best interests.
Our role as Jewish Americans is to support their efforts. Remember, we live in two very different places on Earth.
If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.
Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.