In my attempt to find a rabbi, I called the Jewish community in Geneva and finally found a secretary who had the beginning of an idea of what I meant. While we were on the phone, she told me she was not in her office so she would transfer me. The weirdest thing then happened.
I hear a small voice: “Allo? Allo?”
Me: “Hum, yes?”
– Is it the social service? It’s Mrs. Cohen.
– Well I was calling them and got transferred but it seems that we have been shortcut.
– Oh then in that case I will hang up since you were calling first.
– Wait, Ms Cohen. Are you the rabbi’s wife?
– Yes, why?
I then proceeded to explain her the whole story. She said I should call her husband directly and gave me his number and then asked if we had already met, if she knew my parents etc… We have talked for fifteen minutes and at the end she invited me to the Pourim service so that we could meet. I had the impression she almost wanted to invite me for Shabbat!
I obtained a meeting for the Monday with the rabbi, and since it would have been too easy otherwise, he was sick. The secretary said I should come back the day after, hopefully he would be there. I didn’t have time nor energy to find another rabbi ready to do this paper and I had to have it for Wednesday since I was meeting the Shaliah in Zurich that day. If the rabbi wasn’t there on Tuesday, there was no way I could leave on time…
I found him on Tuesday on the phone in his office, a caricature of rabbi with a sefaradic accent. He started to ask me why I wanted to go to Israel, if he had ever seen me at the Schule or my father and when he read “Alger” on my papers, he exclaimed “Of course we haven’t seen you, we never see Algerois, you know there used to be a great rabbi from Alger once, sometimes they care for religion, but he didn’t last very long”. And it went on like this for an hour. He asked what I was going to study, then explained me he was sick but didn’t want to let down the people he had to see this day, and asked if I was also a doctor. Although I told him not, he insisted on showing me the letter from the doctor saying he shouldn’t work for a few days. He did me the paper I needed and said that I should find a cure for people who are not able to remember anyone’s face. It seems to be really inconvenient for a rabbi to not recognize someone he talked to the day before, or his children birthdays…