I am now an avid user of an American line, so much so that Bezek, the main Israel phone company, once informed us that when it advertised unlimited calls to the U.S. for about twenty dollars a month, the intention was not for one user to make 3,000 minutes of calls in a single month.
As a rule, we do not travel much out of Jerusalem – at least I do not. Malka and the children and grandchildren are more avid travelers than this stick-in-the-mud husband, father, and grandfather. I do bestir occasionally. On one excursion to Hebron, we joined a group led by Rabbi Yaakov Marcus, then the rabbi of the Young Israel of Staten Island. He now lives in Israel where he and his family have made notable contributions. As we were leaving Hebron after Minchah, we saw a wedding was to take place shortly at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the group decided to observe it. The bride and groom were obviously very poor. I turned to the people who were enjoying the occasion and asked whether it was appropriate for us to attend a wedding without giving a gift. I then collected a tidy sum and gave it to the bride and groom who were pleasantly astonished. The story appeared the next day in a leading Israeli newspaper.
For more than a quarter of a century I have been actively involved in the Avi Chai Foundation, which was established in the early 1980s by Zalman C. Bernstein of blessed memory. This involvement has resulted in far more frequent trips to Israel. But that is another story, one I have yet to tell.