immigrants, Israel, Israel experience, Israeli life

A Victory with Victor

Life in Israel frequently cracks me up. It’s such a small country and you end up having interactions that weave people and places together in unexpected ways.

We don’t have centralized heating in the house; rather, we have small air conditioning/heating units in each of the bedrooms. Two of these units (which are connected with one compressor) haven’t been working correctly for ages and I didn’t know who to call. I whined to the person who installed them and he took pity on me and came out to investigate the issue. He, in turn, told me to call Tadiran to see if they would service the Gree machines (they won’t) and then he sent me to Moshe. “Moshe,” he said as he left the house without fixing the machines, “just call Moshe.” As if I had any idea who that was or why Moshe would listen to me.


So I put off calling Moshe because I was sure he wouldn’t know what the heck I was talking about and I wasn’t looking forward to this lengthy, confusing conversation. How was I even going to explain what was wrong with the machines? Considering I didn’t know what was wrong with them, this would be a tough call.

The next day after a nice cup of coffee and some deep breaths, I spoke with Moshe. After trying to explain what I needed and where I lived, he said “Ok I’ll have Victor call you later today.” And he hung up. I was left thinking, What?? Who is Victor? Why is Victor calling me? And seriously – do I believe that this guy is going to take the time to give my number to said Victor and that said Victor is really going to call?

Yeah, right.

I was back to square one.

I decided that I would figure out a new plan tomorrow. There is only so much a girl can take in one day.

That evening, I got a call and when I answered someone was talking to me in rapid Hebrew. When you don’t know a language that well, it’s hard to know when something is important versus when someone is trying to sell you something. So, I tried to catch on to words that I recognized.

“Wait, wait,” I said, “Slow down. Yes, I live in Neve Daniel…”

And then he was saying something about Chaya, Neve Daniel, Five Blocks, Chaya….and suddenly it clicked. This wasn’t just any Victor calling me. This was Victor –THE Victor  – who is a permanent fixture at my office. Victor is this Moroccan air conditioning repairman who acts as our Eldin from Murphy Brown. He’s always hanging around at my office, chatting over coffee in the kitchen and (you would assume) fixing something.

“Victor!” I exclaimed. “I don’t believe it. It’s you! I work at Five Blocks too. You know me!” We had a great laugh over that.

Turns out (I learned when Victor arrived on Thursday) that Gree went out of business. And that no one wants to repair these machines anymore. Moshe and Victor have taken it upon themselves to repair the machines when people call frantically begging someone to help. (Moshe does the North half of the country and Victor does the South.) We took a selfie together (of course) which I proceeded to send to my office. Everyone got a great kick out of that and out of the small world Israel story.

And yes, in the course of a few hours, Victor did repair my two broken machines. He also told me his life story. His family picked up in the middle of the night in 1964 and moved to Israel. They lived somewhere near Morocco (I didn’t fully understand that part). He said that someone came to his home at 10pm and said – “We leave at 3am.” His father owned a large factory and he told his workers he was going away for a few months since they didn’t want to tell anyone they were leaving for Israel. They had five hours to pack, and then they left with whatever they could carry. They arrived in Beer Sheva and eventually Victor made his way to Jerusalem where he lives today.

There were many other stories along the way as he fixed the heating units. He met some of my kids and threw around a bunch of brachot. It was all very sweet, funny and festive.

As he left, he wished me all sorts of happiness and health in the house. And then said, “See you at the office!”

All I could do was laugh.

Only in Israel do you end up with stories like these.

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