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HARRIET BERKAL: UBER FOR LOUIS BERKAL?

Harriet Berkal, Aug 22, 2023



I don’t think my beloved father took the same route to synagogue in over 50 years.

He’d likely have made for a lousy Uber driver, as far as driving goes. But he would have engaged every passenger and their repartee, would have lifted his spirits.

Recently, we spent three weeks in Vancouver and took many Uber drives to and fro.

I like to talk to the drivers, who are by far, immigrants to Canada and soon I discovered, have much in common they had with my dad.

Can they sing? Not sure. Are they religious - some.


So what is the link that ties them together ? Both immigrated to Canada from their homelands. They travelled from afar and each of them, had to adapt to a new home, facing all the challenges that come with that journey.  

I think many of us don’t really comprehend the obstacles and fears inherent in such a massive life change.

Newcomers back in my dad’s day, didn’t always speak the language. The voyage itself 
would have been quite arduous and emotional. You are likely leaving some family behind, that you may never see again.


What fascinated me was that so many Uber drivers coming from foreign lands, were very educated. Some of them were engineers or computer experts, others with medical training. They had to leave established professions to sacrifice for a better life for their children in Canada.  

But what became evident rather quickly was certain parallels between them and my father’s immigration to Canada. They bought sought refuge here.

I am a late baby and so I was born here and am first generation Canadian.

As a kid I’d sit around the table on Sundays with my uncles and aunts and hear stories of how they travelled to Canada and were happy they did so for the sake of their offspring.

The first generation born here, generally appreciated and understood the importance of their parents sacrifice. The respect was obvious. The gratitude was enormous.

And so when I heard each, over qualified, Uber driver speak with such pride, of how their kids were going to university or following certain traditions, I got it !

Canada has afforded them opportunity not lost on their offspring.

What a debt we owe to such brave individuals who ventured this far to start anew.

I felt the presence of my father in almost each Uber ride we took. It saddens me that these talented people,  were not able to be as productive here,  as they were in their native lands. Some were frustrated, but by far, they were content that their kids were striving for higher education recognized in Canada.

What parents will do for their children. This was not lost on me at all.

Kudos to all who have embarked on such life altering journeys. Hats off to those who knew they made the right decision, even if it didn’t benefit them directly. I had great respect and was in awe of them.

Louis would have savoured a conversation with a newcomer. He would have joked and kibbitzed with them, but deep down inside, they were kindred spirits.

And obviously he would have given them a five star review.

Drive on you warriors.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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