"Maybe, the politicians should just get together and smoke some grass."
Location: Dag Al-Hayam Restaurant, Beit Yanai
The encounter: We were at this outdoors beachside restaurant for a birthday celebration. It was windy, the restaurant was crowded, and the kitchen was backlogged. As I watched Naama, the shift supervisor, go from table to table trying to calm irritated customers, I felt for her. I have worked as a waiter, and I know the stress of having to keep smiling while a crowd of hungry people takes out their anger on you. Later, when the pressure had let up, I snuck away from the party to talk to Naama.
What are you doing here right now?
I'm the supervisor at this restaurant. I have two additional jobs: I also run horse stables and I work as a tour guide for Israeli and foreign tour groups. Everybody asks me how I manage to have three jobs. I don’t know.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I am divorced and have a nine-year-old daughter.
Where is your family from?
My mom’s family is from Yemen, or actually from Aden, which, back then, was still a separate country. My mom was born in Israel, but some of her older siblings where born there. My dad’s was born in Czechoslovakia and came to Israel when he was three, in the early 1950s. They were Holocaust survivors. My grandfather was in the resistance, and my grandmother was in a concentration camp. After the war, they had the choice between going to Israel or to the US. Israel was the promised land, the Jewish State, so they came here.
For my Yemenite family... I think Israel had been a dream for many generations. “Next year in Jerusalem,” is what the Jews used to say. And then suddenly it was possible! For the immigrants of my grandparents’ generation, living in a Jewish country was a life-long fantasy. Today’s immigrants aren’t as idealistic.
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I don’t want to expect anything, because I don’t want to be disappointed. But I hope we can reach some kind of peace, or just a better quality of life. I wish it was easier to make ends meet and to live here without constant financial stress and worries about the security situation. But I don’t know how that can happen. It’s so complicated! Maybe, the politicians should just get together and smoke some grass. No, seriously, I just hope that the people who lead us will make the right decisions.