I was born to be a teacher.
I went to the right school to be a teacher. The Ecole Normale Hebraique. I had the right interviews to be a teacher.
But life did not help and I ended up to be a salesman. And my customers thought I was a teacher so good I was explaining to them what my product can do for them.
In the early 60's Canada needed more immigrants, preferably French speaking ones for the Province if Quebec.
So here are their representatives in Rabat and Casablanca trying to convince people to come to their country.
My dad was one of those people they interviewed as he was interested in immigrating there after having tried Israel with no big success in 1955.
To convince the authorities, he told them he has a son who will be a teacher in few months. It looks like they liked the idea as they said they needed teachers. So the process went a bit faster. In less than six months, all was done, medical exams, passports, luggage preparations and the date was fixed to take a boat in Gibraltar on May 8/1964. The little problem, that my dad either didn't realize or didn't care about was that on June of that same year, I was to pass the Baccalaureate which will be an extra to my diploma for teaching from Ecole Normale Hebraique
The date arrives and we take the train from Rabat to Tanger, then the ferry to cross over to Gibraltar.
I will skip the details of the trip, it's ups and downs along with the arrival, to touch on my experience getting a job as a teacher. We were so excited when told the country needed teachers, that I felt it will be a piece of cake.
The main schooling body in Quebec is called: LA COMMISSION DES ECOLES CATHOLIQUES DE MONTREAL, or the Catholic School Commission.
I go there and apply. Five people were interviewing me, three men and two women. I am asked questions to which I reply correctly. All looks good and I may get the job for next September.
Then one of the men throws a comment at me:
- It is understood that you will be teaching the Catechism on Thursdays.
To which I reply: I don't t mind since I have been a Catholic at one time.
At this moment, all five of them seem to jump on their seat, fixing me with a crazy look asking: What do you mean, you were Catholic at one time?
To which I replied very simply that in my application, I did write that I was an Israelite
Here again they are flabbergasted not knowing what Israelite meant. They talk amongst themselves then one screams: Are you a Jew?
I answer simply, well, in my world we call ourselves Israelites but if You prefer a Jew, well yes I am a Jew.
They were all shocked and after a long silence, one of them tells me:
- Well, sorry, this is a Catholic School and we do not hire Jews and as far as we are concerned, you are a Protestant so we suggest you go see the PROTESTANT SCHOOL BOARD OF GREATER MONTREAL.
A bit disturbed, I picked up my papers and went for the door. I get home and my parents ask me how did my meeting go. And I told them the shocker.
My dad couldn't understand as he kept repeating that they told us they need teacher so how come they didn't hire you, to which I answered: we will see tomorrow as I will go to the Protestant Board.
And here I am at my second interview.
To this date I still remember the name of the person who interviewed me, for it left a rather bad taste.
When I told the man that the Catholic Commission suggested I come here because I am a Jew, he said: oh yes, all Jews come to us.
Show me your papers. I did. He looks at them and says: All looks fine, now tell me how many years of experience do you have?
What a shocker, I am fresh out of school, 19 years of age and this guy wants to know how many years I have bee teaching . What shall I tell him?
So I tell him that besides the various pedagogical stages I did, I have not taught yet.
To which he replied: Well we cannot hire people with no experience, and he adds, by the way, your papers say that you can teach French, Hebrew and Arabic. Forget about Arabic ( he didn't know that 40 years later they will be teaching Arabic in schools in Montreal), but since you have Hebrew, maybe you can go to the TALMUD TORAH, which is the Jewish School Board.
I am back home and tell my experience to my parents who again are more frustrated than I am. I wait for tomorrow to go to Talmud Torah.
As I sit in the waiting room, seeing the principal going back and forth from office to office, after a quarter an hour, I say to him:
- Mister, I am here looking for a job as a teacher.
He looks at me and says: Well I thought you were a student.
Come with me. I sit in his office and he realizes my English is rather poor, almost non existent and he asks me: Are you a French Jew? I answer yes.
He has never seen one. He asks me further;: Did you study French literature?
When I answered yes, he became curious: Do you know Voltaire? Do you know Victor Hugo? Do you know Moli?re? And on.
As I answered yes he now asks me to talk to him of what I know about these people.. I do. The man was a freak of French literature.
After almost half an hour I say: Mister, the Protestant School Board suggested I come to you to teach Hebrew as they could not hire me without experience.
His answer was: if the PSBGM accept you, we accept you.
Had I known the expression then, I would have told him F U, had they accepted me, I would not be here, so I am here because they did not accept me.
He added we cannot hire you because your papers may be good for Morocco but not for here. So I suggest you come to our JEWISH TEACHER SEMINARY and after two years you get a diploma and you can teach with us.
I ask: Can you tell me what the program this Seminary teaches is?
After he told me what it is, I said: Well, I have done all of this, why should I repeat ité
And his answer was: Well you did it in French and Hebrew, here you will do It in English and Hebrew.
What could I answer to that?
Realizing this third interview was my last chance and that if I wanted to teach, as this is all I learnt at my boarding school, I should adjust my plan.
The idea to be anything else never hit me. I never thought of being a doctor, an accountant, an attorney, let alone being a plumber or a technician. My only goal in life was being a teacher.
And this country is not giving me the opportunity.
After few minutes of reflection, I accepted to attend the seminary.
One more time I explain my parents my predicament . They are understandable
The classes consisted of three hours a day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 6pm to 9 pm and Sunday from 9am to 12pm.
Two years later, I get my diploma. I ask for a position but none is available. I have to wait.
Meantime I got engaged with this young lady, originally from Egypt and who was also studying to be a teacher.
Three months later, I get a phone call and a position for me is available in Selkirk, Manitoba, may as well say Tupelo, Mississippi or Oakmulgee, Oklahoma. It is so out of this world, and being engaged, I turned down the offer.
Another three months go by and a new offer comes. It is in Winona, Ontario. Well this is not too far. I accept. But I am given more feedback. This community, not only needs a teacher but also someone who can do the prayer services on Shabbat and Holidays.
Granted, my schooling enables me to be a Hazan and a Cantor, but I am a Sephardi and this congregation is Ashkenazi. The two liturgies are so different that they will not comprehend me and neither will I understand them. Also, most Jews in Canada speak Yiddish and I don't, I speak Hebrew.
So I had to refuse the offer
So after three years in Canada, teaching not wanting me, I became a salesman and teaching helped a lot as with time, I became a super salesman and earned my living with it