Plane Story — “Necessary Stories” column from The Jerusalem Report

Haim Watzman

    illustration by Avi Katz

“The air is unexpectedly cool and damp for early September when I emerge from Terminal 3 and cross over to the AirTrain. I’m alone and there are no human sounds, only the roar of traffic on the highway. Even that is muted as the elevator door shuts.”

I look up from 60C on my Delta flight from JFK to TLV. A pudgy young guy in a white shirt and a beard is standing over me.

“I’ve got the window,” he says apologetically.

I snap my laptop shut and squiggle out of my aisle seat.

“Sorry,” he says. “You were writing something.”

“It’s ok,” I say as he squeezes past me with a hat box and a large plastic bag full of cookies. He places them on 60B.

“I saw at the desk that no one’s sitting here,” he explains. He points at the computer. “Work?”

“Yes,” I say. “A story. I have a column in a magazine and the deadline is coming up. I’m just trying to get it started before takeoff.”

“Well, don’t let me bother you. By the way, I’m Yehuda.”

“Haim,” I say. “Thanks. Actually, I’m not sure if I want to write it.”

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Successful New York Debut!

Haim Watzman

Last monthafter Saturday morning services at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, I stood up in Rabbi Andy Bachman’s spacious study. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Were the personal stories of life in Jerusalem and Israel-forged humor of my Necessary Stories presentation going to click with the 50 sophisticated New Yorkers I found before me?

I’m happy to say that it went splendidly. From the start, people laughed in the right places—the best indication that they were engaged and entertained. And when the audience started breaking up before I’d had a chance to present my final segment, it wasn’t because they were bored. They explained that the children’s activities being held in parallel were coming to an end and that they had to pick up their kids.

Kudos came later by e-mail: “Haim Watzman transports his audience both in time and place in an authentic, heartfelt and intellectually thought-provoking performance,” wrote Doris Traub. David Greenberg, to whom I owe thanks for helping arrange the appearance, gave me this blurb: ““Haim Watzman brings the Israeli experience to life in a way that a history book never can. He reminded me again why Israel means so much to me. Mr. Watzman’s program was at once funny, thought-provoking, wise and enjoyable.”

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