The Watchmaker

When I came to Israel last week, I brought a broken watch that had sat in my drawer for two years. The watch repair departments of prominent jewelry stores in West Hartford, Connecticut and Bad Segeberg, Germany both examined it but told me there was nothing they could do with it. I had all but given up hope of ever wearing my special watch again.

Along Allenby Street in Tel Aviv there are at least two dozen jewelry/watch repair stores within a half-mile of the Mediterranean Sea. I decided I would try one.

I did not use Trip Advisor or Yelp reviews to choose. I was looking to pick up a vibe. As I passed one small shop, I paid attention to the gentle manner in which the proprietor dealt with a particular female customer.

My gut told me, “This is the place.”

When I handed the distinguished looking man my watch, he cradled it in his hands as though it were his infant grandchild.

He carefully examined and exclaimed that he might be able to fix it. “Come back in half an hour.” Something in his manner told me I had no need to ask for a receipt.

An hour later, I returned. The man looked at me with a proud twinkle in his eye and handed me the watch. He told me it was very complicated, and that were it not a gold watch, he would not have worked on it at all. He then gave me a gentle lecture about how I had to be careful with this watch and not wear it every day.

“No,” I promised, “only for Shabbat, holidays and special occasions.” He charged me 120 Israeli shekels, about $32, which was more than fair.

A few days later I went back.

While I was in Israel my former camp counselor and now friend, Doug Barnert, sent me a Facebook message. He wanted to support Israel by asking me to buy something worth about $100 for him.

So after my experience with my watch, I went back to the store at 60 Allenby Street. It is called Shalman Brothers, and I recommend it to everyone.

This time Ya’akov Shalman and his brother and business partner, Daniel, were both there. I told them: “I have a friend in the USA for whom I need a present. It has to be small enough to easily fit into my suitcase. So please give me the best watch that you have that costs as close as you can come to $100.” He showed me a beauty, and I bought it for Doug.

I am no expert in watches, but I think they gave me a deal.

By this time we were friends. The older brother shared that he is 82 years old and was born in Israel.His father and grandfather were born in Israel. This shop has been in their family since 1921.

And still some persist in saying that the Jews are interlopers in this land.

When I asked him about this he said, “All you have to do is look in the Bible to see how long we have lived here. How can any one say this is not our land?”

I could not agree more!