We often come across faces that we see every day. But we often look at them like living still images. Another human in nature. We know no more than that about them.
I’ve had two men in my field of vision every morning for a long time. They go hand-in-hand and distribute the daily newspapers at shops and cafes in the vicinity of our editorial offices. An older and a younger person. This is not a normal picture. That made me curious.
Naim and Samuel
Naim Shmueli is 104-years-old and is accompanied by Samuel (31), who every morning holds his hand so that Naim can continue to do his job. Until two years ago, he worked at the nearby Palatin Hotel Jerusalem. But since retiring, he’s been looking for a new job. With little other options, Naim started distributing newspapers. Naim cannot live without work. And so, Israel’s national insurance company provided Samuel to Naim. The young man accompanies his elder every morning for two hours so that Naim can distribute newspapers in the center of Jerusalem. While leading Naim by the hand, Samuel reads his daily prayers. And the State of Israel happily pays to maintain this arrangement.
Naim was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Israel with his parents before the state was founded in 1948. His children are all between the ages of 70-80. After work, he returns to his apartment, just a few houses away from our editorial offices. In the afternoon, he goes to the synagogue and always reads the same portion related to the Prophet Elijah. He reads part of the prayer in Hebrew and the other half in Aramaic. Naim was born under Ottoman rule in Iraq, and knows more about the founding of the State of Israel than most others in our neighborhood. Naim is a pleasant man, which is what his name means in Hebrew, and is strong and healthy for one who has seen 104 years.
As the standard Jewish blessing goes, “Until 120 years!” So here’s praying that Naim’s got at least 16 more go to.