Safi Netter

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk




Safi, an attractive, young looking woman, can be seen with her beautiful two children walking mysteriously up and down the aisles of Temple Beth Tzedek almost every Schabbath.  With her smiling face, youthful strut and attractive figure, she can be mistaken for a model, advertising the most recent style in women's attire. In a more close encounter, we find she is the rabbi’s wife, but not the proverbial rebbetzin.

Safi spent her childhood and growing up years  in a town south of Tel Aviv, Israel, where she was born.  She has a delightful accent and spoke to me of her happy and carefree youth.  This state of affairs ended when she was eight years old and a child had been kidnapped.  Caution became the order of the day.  No unsupervised children could play outdoors for fear of possible life threatening consequences. She lived in a happy family with her older brother and younger sister.  Her brother lives with his wife and children in a Kibbutz (Kibbutzim are no longer the socialistic places they once were, but are owned by various people who rent out portions of the  facilities.  Children still attend schools together uniformly  and the land on which the buildings stand is still jointly possessed).

Safi attended two years in an architectural college before joining the army. Because of her education, she worked in drafting rather than carrying a gun.  When she had served her twenty-four months of service, she needed some respite and took a trip to Dahab, Egyptwhere she enjoyed the Red Sea and its beauty (nearly twenty years ago). It was there where she met American tourists. She traveled to Thailand, to Naples, loved the tour.  After a month of sightseeing, she ultimately  took advantage of her remaining time and situation to travel further,  ending up in Los Angeles, California.

Life in America was an adventure for her.  Her English was flawed (as she so succinctly described it, “I had to make up everything from scratches”) so the job that she found was in teaching, where she worked for  number of years with young children, instructing them in Hebrew. Additionally, she did some tutoring to earn a living. It was in 2005 that she met Perry, who was then the rabbi in the synagogue which was attached to the school in which she taught Kindergarten.

She never thought much what she wanted to be, do, or what she wanted of life.  She loved the land of Israel, the Israeli people that she found who befriended her, and the fact that she could travel whenever possible.  She reminisced about her ancestors.  Her paternal grandfather was a holocaust survivor of European birth.  He went to Cypress after the Shoah, married in the camp there, and placed himself on a lottery for entrance to Israel.  It took some time before the couple were admitted into what was to become their home.  Granddad was traditional.  She has many happy memories of him.  He died when Safi was twenty-three years old.  Safi’s parents are secularists and raised their offspring in that fashion.    

She is happy raising her two children: son Nadai, almost five, and daughter Sivan, age three.  When asked what else brings her joy, she answered readily: “Being in a Jewish bubble.”  Her wishes were first answered when she walked into Kadima School and made her acquaintance with a number of Israelis who have become fast friends.  If she were a magician she would turn on a switch and turn  Buffalo into eternal summer!

Safi does not have any unusual expectations.  Travel, warm weather, raising her little family with her husband, give her a sense of satisfaction.  Having some good Israeli friends is an added ingredient bringing happiness into her busy life.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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