Life coaching: Most likely to become Buddhist

It's not very edifying to be voted "the most likely to become Buddhist" in your Hebrew school class. Unless of course you are Jason, who worked long and hard to gain the title. He was proud of it, and no one was going to take it away from him.

ben goldfarb 88 (photo credit: )
ben goldfarb 88
(photo credit: )
It's not very edifying to be voted "the most likely to become Buddhist" in your Hebrew school class. Unless of course you are Jason, who worked long and hard to gain the title. He was proud of it, and no one was going to take it away from him. ----------------------- Jason didn't just hate Hebrew school, he wanted nothing to do with Judaism, Israel, or even the UJA. The child of Holocaust survivors, there was no place for G-d in his world. He put his energies into martial arts and eastern religions. When he was learning Hebrew, he wrote a separate column in his notebook for Chinese vocabulary words. He was learning Chinese from a refugee from Beijing who lived nearby. Jason swore to us that the day after his Bar Mitzvah, he would never set foot in a synagogue again. Ironically, he became passionate about saving Soviet Jews during his teenage years. Back in the days when the Iron Curtain was as hard to open as childproof aspirin containers, Jason worked tirelessly with the Free Soviet Jewry campaign. He attended all-night vigils, got arrested for throwing red paint on the Soviet ballet troupe, and protested outside the Russian embassy in Washington. His greatest joy in the campaign was his communication with his refusnik pen pal, Vladimir. Vladi was an emergency room physician in Moscow who had been denied entry to Israel for years. They discussed everything. Vladi was like a father figure to Jason. Jason's own father was solemn and bitter because of World War II. Vladi was buoyant and warm despite the Cold War. They communicated by mail for three years, and the correspondence suddenly ended on Jason's 17th birthday. Jason had written to a prominent US Senator and he was promised that there was some movement on Vladi's case. The correspondence with the senator also ended abruptly. Jason was worried that Vladi had been sent to the Gulag and he'd never hear from him again. He feared for Vladi's life. In the meantime, Jason received a scholarship during his senior year of high school. The scholarship would pay for his first two years of university as long as he met two conditions. The first condition was participation in a 6-week trip to Israel and the second condition was getting a minor in Jewish studies. Jason would rather have joined Vladi in the Gulag than visit the "fascist" state of Israel and learn more about his outdated, provincial religion. But his friends convinced him to take the trip and then decline the scholarship later. Besides, he could always change his ticket on the way home and get a free trip to a "civilized" country in Europe. So Jason signed all the scholarship paperwork and was committed to being the most rebellious person on the trip to the Zionist entity. He brought non-kosher food into the youth hostel, smoked on Shabbat, and got drunk any chance he could. The counselors were long-suffering, but eventually they had to put their collective foot down. After his last drinking episode in which he passed out in a Jerusalem pub and was brought back to the dorm by the police, Jason was told he was being sent home. To add insult to injury, he was told that they were going to call his parents to tell them the news. His parents had been through enough during their short and bitter lives, and he didn't want them to get this phone call and compound their grief. He couldn't bear the thought of their reaction and the pain it would cause them. He begged his counselors not to call his parents, but they said they were already on the line with them. Jason couldn't take it. He stopped breathing. One of the counselors knew CPR and began mouth to mouth resuscitation. It was clear that this wasn't a simple case of hyperventilation brought about by stress. They had a serious medical emergency on their hands. Jason had a history of heart disease. The counselors called an ambulance which arrived within minutes and a medic brought Jason back to life with a heart defibrillator. As they drove to the hospital, Jason heard the medics conversing. One medic had a thick Russian accent and was speaking in fluent English. He was already an MD in Russia. He was working as a medic until the Israelis would recognize his credentials. The medic was discussing how he never would have made it out of Russia had it not been for the persistence of a young American who wrote him weekly for years. This selfless teenager had managed to get a US senator to work on his case. The senator eventually secured his visa for him. The medic explained that he had to stop communication with his American friend so it wouldn't endanger his chances of getting out of the USSR. He sent letters to him from Israel, but for some reason, they were returned to him unopened with the words "wrong address" stamped on them. He wondered if he would ever be able to contact his American friend again. Jason came out of his semi-conscious state and yelled out Vladi's name. Vladi looked at Jason, called out his name, and when Jason identified himself, Vladi almost went into shock. It was a good thing he was in ambulance. The odds against such a reunion occurring were astronomically high. They hugged each other. Vladi almost pulled Jason's IV out of his arm by accident. Jason went in and out of a comatose state all night. Vladi stayed by his side, checking his vital signs. Since he wasn't licensed as a physician in Israel yet, Vladi couldn't administer medication to Jason. However, he kept an eye on Jason's condition and tried making him as comfortable as possible. Jason was fully conscious in the morning but not completely out of the woods. After a week of tests and observation, Jason was given a clean bill of health and released from the hospital. Although this incident didn't make Jason believe in G-d, he did develop a belief in a Higher Intelligence who orchestrates meetings between friends from different continents. Jason helped Vladi gain his freedom and Vladi gave Jason his very life back to him. Upon his return to the US, Jason decided to carry out his end of the agreement and he minored in Jewish studies. He slowly became less negative about his heritage. He visits Vladi frequently in Israel and Vladi has been to the US to visit Jason on a few occasions. As for Buddism, Jason lost interest in eastern religions, although he is still involved in martial arts. Vladi has a daughter Jason's age and is thinking of a way to orchestrate a "chance" meeting with his daughter and Jason. With his track record, Vladi just needs to get out of the way and let the Higher Intelligence do the matchmaking. Besides, an international Kung Fu competition was scheduled in New York in a few months and both Jason and Vladi's daughter were on the roster by "coincidence." Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. He has given seminars and training sessions at Israel Aircraft Industry and Philips Medical Systems. His book, "Double Feature: A Nostalgic Peek into the Future" will be published in the summer. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to [email protected] © Copyright 2008 by Ben Goldfarb