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The Adventures of an English teacher in the Colegio Colombo Hebreo of Bogota!
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The Great Escape

We were staying all on one floor of a hostel in Jerusalem, and for motze Shabat our madrij, Salvador, decided he had an activity for everybody.  He started to call people to come out of their rooms.  Some came out.  But from other rooms there was no response.  Salvador knocked.  No answer.  He could see the lights were on from looking at the bottom of the doors, but still no answer.   Recently out of the Israeli army, Salvador was young and took his authority as the madrij seriously.  He began to get furious, almost breaking down some of the doors.

“Everybody out of your rooms and line up!” he shouted. He told me to count how many students were present.  I counted 22 out of 33.  11 were missing.   “You stay here,” Salvador told me.  “I know where they are.  I’m going to bring them back.”

Salvador knew they had gone to Ben Yehuda for Motze Shabat.  Not a bad idea.  Why didn’t he take all of us there? 

Not much time had passed when I saw some 7 of those 11 renegades climbing back in through the window from the fire escape!  I believe Julie Mugrabi was among those seven.  All I could do was laugh when I saw them trying to climb in!  They were having a tough time fitting through the window.

Me dan una cerveza?!!

Meanwhile, on Ben Yehuda Steven Rausch had connected up with his cousin Abi Chehebar who was studying at the Hebrew University and together with Sandra Reines, Sofi Haya and (you tell me)…. They were all enjoying themselves having a beer.  Salvador had learned many skills in the Tzahal, perhaps one was to sneak up on the unsuspecting without creating suspicions.  He suddenly appeared and slammed his fist on their table!  “Me dan una cerveza?!” he bellowed. (You have to say that with a Castillan accent since Salvador was from Ceuta, Spain).

The five froze.  Abi immediately escaped back to the university.  Salvador was so furious he couldn’t ride back in the same taxi with the four.  He sent them ahead and took another taxi himself.

Back at the hostel, Salvador decided to punish the eleven by not allowing them to join the rest of us on our scheduled trip to the stalactite caves the next day, Sunday.  Sacky called home: “I can’t believe I wasn’t part of the escapada!”

* * * * *

Since we are talking about our madrij, Salvador, I already mentioned that he was feeling his oats after recently finished the Tzahal in Israel.  We had a lot of pretty girls in the class, and the boys could be rather sassy.  To wake them up in the morning for rezo, he would overturn some of their mattresses.  On one occasion he even threw a chair at the some of the boys during a “moadon” session.  So, enough was enough.

MAS:  Muerte a Salvador

At that point in time, something called the ”MAS” (Muerte a Secuestradores) had formed in Colombia.  So the students got together and plotted their revenge.  They formed the “MAS”, Muerte a Salvador. 

One evening Salvador showed up at my door.  “Did you hear what the students are saying?”   “Yes,” I answered.  “What do you think they will do?”  he asked me.  “Good question!”  I said.

Salvador was seriously worried.  We had a major revolution on our hands.  It was time for Peace Talks, and they began promptly.  Sacky represented the disgruntled students, and he joined Salvador, the Director Chaim Peri and myself, to talk.   The four of us considered all angles, and the talks were a success!  Salvador agreed to calm down, the boys agreed to be more respectful, and we all lived happily ever after.  Well, at least until we left Israel. As a matter of fact, when Salvador had his birthday, all the students chipped in $5 or $10 dollars a piece to buy him a airline ticket to Spain!  And it wasn’t just one way!!

* * * * *


There was the time that Salvador completely surprised me.  It was February 11th and we were all on the bus in Tel Aviv.  The bus stopped at Kikkar Dizenghof and Salvador said, “Everybody off the bus!”  What?  What was going on?  He hadn’t told me anything.  “You will see,” was all he told me.

It was cold.  We all had our “dubonim” on.  “We are all ready to celebrate the birthdays of our teacher Danny and Julie (Mugrabi),” Salvador called out.   Jessica and someone else brought out two chocolate cakes from the sidewalk bakery and Leon Michaan and someone else brought out two bottles of wine.

Get a camera!  (Julie and I were standing together for our birthday shot).  Ready for the picture?  SMILE!  YES.  SPLAT!  The chocolate cake went squarely in my face.  The picture shows me wearing a chocolate orthodox beard!  Then Leon poured the bottle of wine on the dubon on my head.   I remember the dubon totally stank as we rode the bus back to Yemin Orde that night!  I guess our room-mother Etty lent me another, while she washed this one.

(Pictures will be provided).

Your life is half over.

A curious insert here.  That night I remembered that I had exactly a certain number of hours to sleep.  I woke up exactly in the middle of that time, and the thought came to me:  “Your life is half over.”  I had just turned 35!  And King David tells us in Tehillim that HaShem gives us 70 years (on the average), and in some cases 80, for those who have more strength.  A bit of a shocking thought.  Half over. As a result, months later I began to re-think the length of my stay at the Colombo Hebreo.  Did I really want to be buried there?  We will take a look at that later.

Cheese Sandwiches… with an iron.

Since the purpose of school is prepare youngsters for life, some of our Israel visitors started businesses early.   Jimmy Nudelman, Andres Peñuela and Leon Michaan were roommates.  Therefore, it made sense to become partners in a little business venture.  Jimmy had an iron, Leon wrapped cheese sandwiches in aluminum foil, then ironed them.  Andres had the business savy to sell and collect.  (What percentage he actually gave to the others, we will never know).