Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jameel - Behind the Scenes

The phone rings. I look down at the caller ID, and a name pops up. Though I'm a little busy at work, I know that this is going to be a phone call worth answering, even if I'm only able to pay attention to half of what he's saying, so I pick up.
Ezzie: "Hey..."
Caller: "Hey Ezzie!"
Ezzie: "Hey Jameel, what's up?"
Jameel: "Not much... just driving home from work. Oh - did you see? ...."
He then proceeds to bring up some fascinating stories or information, most of which I hadn't yet seen or heard about, and keeps me cracking up or gets me fired up about some subject or another. But while all that's nice, it's what is behind what Jameel does - and often, what he does behind the scenes - that amazes me, and should impress you as well.

So now let's tell everyone a little bit about Jameel of the Muqata, when he's not just a hilarious J-blogger.

Jameel is a Big Person at a Big Company in Israel, working on Big Projects and in charge of a lot of people. He goes on Big Trips to Big Clients in Big Cities. Most people like him have very little free time, and use that little bit of free time to unwind, to relax, to chill out a little bit.

Not Jameel. He runs a Big Family, which one would think take up all the remaining time he has - and it does - but he still manages to accomplish other things at the same time. Everything comes first to Jameel - everything but Jameel. In addition to his day job, he works as a paramedic for the MDA; he runs a counter-terrorist unit in his community; he blogs; he makes a ridiculous amount of phone calls; he dishes out advice to people all over the globe; and he makes things happen worldwide. There's a reason his away message on Google Chat says "Can't blog on pain of death" - the great Mrs. @ the Muqata is well aware that her husband would otherwise be spending this week focusing on everyone else, and not what he himself may need to be doing.

I think it's time to hear a couple of stories about the mysterious Jameel. Unfortunately, as Jameel often points out, the best stories are always the ones that can't be told - and that's true. As many people are aware, while a lot of the conversation between people - bloggers, commenters, lurkers - takes place on the blogs themselves, there is often so much more taking place off of the blogs, for various reasons. And because Jameel is so warm and kind, he often gets asked to help out or volunteers to help out in situations where a large bloc of his time and efforts are taken up - and he will get nothing in return.

I've gotten more than my share of phone calls from Jameel, asking if I know anything about this or that, this person or that person, this city or another. None of these requests are for himself... and in most of them, the person didn't even ask Jameel for help. He simply said "Oh, sure, I can find out about that for you" - and he then proceeds to spend hours of his own time doing just that.

A few months ago, someone I'm close to spent a couple of weeks scouting out possible aliyah options. They came back positive but slightly disheartened: While they had a vast amount of information and help from their family and friends in Israel, they realized just how short they were of the amount they needed to make the move, with everything they need to do so. Let's say that amount was about $100,000. In addition, they were very concerned about the job opportunities for main breadwinner in the family, who is slightly pigeon-holed in the field he's in when it comes to openings in Israel. He could easily find a job in other sectors, but that would require an even larger pay cut than he already would be taking. It would make survival in Israel a distant dream for them.

I mentioned the story to Jameel (and actually, another blogger as well). The two of them were beyond helpful. They not only gave alternatives that even native Israelis and people who made aliyah prior hadn't thought of, they mentioned a couple of options in particular that most people would never think of that could save the family about $50,000 in costs... and with almost no difficulty added to the family's lifestyle. Then Jameel went even a step past that, and offered to set up a meeting between the father and a friend of Jameel's in Israel who works in a similar field. He spent hours of his time trying to first get in touch with both sides, then setting up a chance for them to talk for a while.

And his reaction afterwards? Disappointment that there wasn't any more he could really do for now.

A couple of months before that, Jameel made a quick trip to the United States. Despite more important plans and things he had to take care of, he particularly wanted to sit down for a few minutes with myself, Chana (who wrote a beautiful post here at the Muqata just below), SJ, and others and get to know us a little better. Despite his best attempts, it didn't really work out... but then suddenly on motzei Shabbos I get a call asking if it was okay to come over then.

At a little after 1:00 in the morning, on the same night that we lose an hour to Daylight Savings, in walks this almost mythical man - wet from the rain, 3 different passports for his secret travels, exhausted beyond belief, still planning a huge project for work, the same guy who goes out searching for terrorists who have broken into his yishuv and goes up north during a war to help people who have been living through Hezbollah rockets... and he's got this huge, relaxed smile on his face as he introduces himself to us and our friends... and proceeds to tell stories for an hour before finally admitting that he needs to get home before he falls on his face, since he's got a 4-hour drive the next morning.

Oh, and he apologized because he'd forgotten a small piece of technology he'd meant to give me, even though it was him doing me the favor.

A couple of weeks ago, we did receive something in the mail from him. It was nice; it was inviting; it was unnecessary; and he got nothing out of sending it to me. We can't fly to the Muqata at this time, although we wish we could... but we can send this message to the honoree: It is rare for this to be the case, but you are very lucky: Your best examples in life are right there in front of you. Take advantage of those examples, internalize them, and use them to make your own mark on this world.

Jameel is certainly making his.

Wherever Jameel is, while his blog may turn to Eretz Yisroel, he turns to see how he can help others.


Holy Hyrax said...


I dident get a whole post dedicated to me when WE met. I did afterall send you a gift by mail. But instead of saying thank you, you DID yell at me that you had it already. I don't know why I allow you to abuse me like this.

Chana said...

Ezzie, what a beautiful tribute post!

Jameel, now everyone's going to wish they knew you in real life! Jameel is the hilarious, sweet, kind, wonderful guy who is alternatively amusing or dead-serious about explaining life and helping you out.

(I should know. After all, Jameel's the one who got it figured where I could've gone to seminary with something like no effort on my part... *smiles*)

Thanks! Huzzah! Hurrah for you!

Jack Steiner said...

But did he bring you waffles?

JoeSettler said...


Someone lost a bet tonight and now has to make Jameel waffles.

The back of the hill said...

Mmmmmmmm, waffles....

tnspr569 said...

...and that's why Jameel rocks!!!

He's ducked out of meetings on more than one occasion to meet with me, always greeting me with a smile. I've seen just how busy he is, and yet somehow, he does it without breaking a sweat.

He's the best!

RaggedyMom said...

For my part, I know that anytime I've had a question or comment, rather than let it get lost in the shuffle of a busy blog (and a busy life), Jameel's made the effort to respond directly.

Go Jameel! I love it when people get the props they deserve - and great job, Ezzie.

Anonymous said...

Jameel, you need to institute "WAFFLE COUPONS".
I want to get the first "coupon". I want waffles with Mrs. and Mr @ Jameel's, with all the little jameelies.

Come on, Jameel, institute Waffle Coupons online so we can sign up! - Redeemable only in Eretz HaKodesh!

Jack Steiner said...

The Waffle King will never let us down.

Sarah Likes Green said...

very inspiring.

Scraps said...

Awww, I wish I'd been invited to the Midnight Meeting! I want to meet Jameel, too! [/whining]

But seriously--I know every word of what you wrote is true and all praises heaped on Jameel's embarrassed and unassuming head are well-deserved!

Anonymous said...

Yeah jameel is a great guy... he even replies to all my texts and whatnot! we did never make it to lunch but i have met him.

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