Jewish Journal

Give Me Sass, Hold the Squeegee

by Lara Berman

June 24, 2010 | 10:38 am

Pomegranate Trees!

Matan means gift or giving.
We sing of the Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah.
But only when you come to Israel can you meet people like Matan Yechezkely, who live up to their names by exemplifying giving.

Listen, I do have a rosey view of Israel, but one thing that has been nothing but a holy, pain in the a*% has been apartment hunting. Why? Look, I’ll just say it: Yes! The bathrooms in America are nicer than the ones in Israel! They are! And it’s tough for a girl who loves to primp and sass it up to find a suitable abode! Tack on a slight aversion to squeegee showers and a penchant for big windows and I’ve got a real challenge here! So, needless to say, this has been one area devoid of sunshine and butterflies…until today.

I’d been scouring Janglo.net and Craigslist.com and the Flathunting Yahoo! Group day in and day out, and nudging every new friend I’ve made in an effort to find a place. Growing more and more frustrated and disheartened as the month’s end draws near, today felt like a last ditch effort.

I arrived at the prescribed place in Nachalaot (a tad shvitzy as usual thanks to my hike from the German Colony) to meet Matan, a real-estate dude. Upon arriving at the building, what do we find? It’s locked. We knock. We ring. We call out. Shoom davar lo oved (nothing works). Not to be defeated by a door, he lept over the wall like a chatool (cat) and two seconds later was escorting me to the proper apartment.

First thing I see: fig and pomegranate trees. How did he know my weakness? The actual apartment didn’t have enough light for my liking, so Matan took me to another place. Better, it’s true, but still no dice.

All the while, we’re chatting up a storm and Matan exhibited true patience as I rambled and rambled in my improving, but still quite broken Ivrit (Hebrew).

We finished checking out Nachlaot. “Want a ride?” he asked. “I’m heading to Rehavia.” My stomach flip flopped. After all, we mustn’t ride with strangers. But then I remembered, this is Israel! And I love Rehavia! And it will make for a shorter walk home! And we’d bonded by then!…So, off I went. Along the way, Matan remembered more apartments that he could show me in that area, which just happened to be my favorite part of town.

Finally! These apartments were right up my alley. But the moment of truth: could I afford them?

Back in the car (he had now offered to drive me home to Emek Refaim), he told me that he’d speak with the owners and bring the apartment into my price range. “I want you to have a place you like,” he said. “And I’m willing to take a much smaller fee so that you can.”

Ayze Midot?! (What Character?!)

Let’s review:

A. I was running late and waits and shows me place after place, literally leaping over tall buildings to do so.
B. He paid attention, totally nailing the kind of apartment I’d be interesting in, all the while figuring out how to make the various places fit my time frame and budget.
C. He schlepped me all over this city in his car, even dropping me off on my block.
D. Noticing my excitement about the places, but observing my fear that they’d be too expensive, he offered to take the hit himself and earn less money so that I would be happy.

All I can say is Wow.
How many people do you know who would do that for anyone, let alone someone they hardly know?

Matan was my gift today.

I still don’t know which apartment will work out, but I’m hopeful again. And thank goodness none of the other places had worked yet, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have met Matan, the baby-faced Yerushalmi with the long eyelashes and knitted kippah who loves Israel and wishes people saw her like he does; who went out of his way in every way for me today, and even thanked me for providing him with a good experience.

This is Israel, these are Israelis.
Col kach matok, v’maleh im lev.
(So sweet and full of heart.)

Todah, Matan.
(Thank you, Matan.)

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