Everything I Ever Wanted To Know About Tuvia Tenenbom

Hillel IsraelI just read a very illuminating article on the Forward which taught me everything I ever wanted to know about the life of some dude named Tuvia Tenenbom who is in search of happiness.

His search for happiness starts at the central bus station in Jerusalem where he first tries to relieve his boredom by eavesdropping on the taxi dispatcher’s phone conversation, then by watching TV, then by having a conversation with the dispatcher; none of these activities can fill the void in Tuvia’s starved soul. So he gets into a taxi, which is wonderful, and it’s especially wonderful that cops aren’t out giving speeding tickets because they’re busy catching firebombers, rocks and bullets. He has a cigarette. He’s happy that this particular driver allows him to smoke in the car. Unfortunately the wonderful car ride ends before he finishes his cigarette.

Tenebom’s search for happiness then takes him to Hillel, an organization dedicated to infusing happiness into the miserable lives of Israeli OTDers. He eagerly expects to find happiness here. He arrives just in time for the Friday night meal, but the food is bland, no happiness there. He’s told that 70% of Hillel’s membership left Orthodoxy because they were sexually molested but, most frustratingly, no one will admit to being among the 70%, no happiness there. Everyone claims to have stopped believing in god but they can’t explain their theology to him, still no happiness.

Tenenbom is getting frustrated, he asks them to pose for a picture hoping to capture their misery and bottle it up for resale. Once again he’s frustrated, they all smile. Full of frustration he nevertheless skillfully masks his feelings and smiles too.

After leaving Hillel Tenenbom’s search for happiness finally bears fruit. In the taxi on his way home he finds a kindred spirit – an Arab driver who bullshits about being married to a German woman, about having “very, very rich” parents, about how wonderful life as an Arab with Allah is. Tenebom promises himself to convert to rich-German-Arabdom next week, for although he knows the cabbie’s stories are as fake as his smile, at least it makes him happy.


Search for happiness at 4torah.com