Man at the Well - March 6, 2014

Shalom Chaverim,

The Man at the Well

 As I’ve shared before, immigration clients can be fascinating and unusual people and often have bizarre stories. The Man at the Well is one of them. Most of you are familiar with the New Testament story of the woman at the well. Yeshua met a Samaritan woman at what is called Jacob’s well, named after the patriarch Jacob of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lore. It’s a great story, but the point for my update is that Yeshua said to her at one point, “the fact is you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

The Man at the Well is Israeli born and had lived in the US for nine years. In 2008 he was deported back to Israel for being in the US without legal status. He tried to return in 2010 but was told he was barred from reentry for 10 years. While in the US, he helped to start what became a large and very profitable company. He wanted me to help him find a way back to the US.  Immigration law often can be complex. Of course, you must understand the facts of a case before figuring out how the law applies. This is especially true when someone has been deported. So, as usual I asked him to provide me a timeline of his period in the US.

He apparently entered the US in 1999 on a French passport – his mother was French. In 2001 he married an American woman. Within a few weeks, he discovered his wife was having an affair with his brother, so he divorced her. He and his brother now are partners in this large, profitable company, and he remains good friends with his former wife, who has four children with his brother. In his view, “que sera, sera.” In 2002 he married his second wife, and she applied for immigration for him. He was about to receive his green card, which would have resolved all of his problems, but instead he fell for another woman, so he decided not to pursue the green card and divorced wife no. 2. He then married wife no. 3, and she applied for a green card for him. However, he discovered she was involved in criminal activity (don’t know what it was and didn’t ask – better at this point, not to know). He then divorced her, again before receiving a green card.

Somewhere along the line, he married an Israeli woman, wife no. 4, who happened to be in the States. It’s unclear if he married her while still married to wife no. 3 because he only went to a rabbi in NY for a Jewish wedding.  Neither he nor the rabbi ever registered the marriage with any civil authority, so there’s no record of the marriage. He then went to an interview with respect to his green card application absent wife no. 3 – the American criminal. He was told without her he could not get his green card. This part is confusing because I’m unsure if he had divorced her yet and was married to wife no. 4. Anyway, a week later he was picked up by the Immigration police (ICE) and put in detention. 10 days later he was deported back to Israel.

Wife no. 4 followed him back to Israel. He then contacted the rabbi in NY who sent him the marriage papers, and he registered his marriage with wife no. 4 in Israel. Sometime afterward, he and wife no. 4 got into an argument. He went to another rabbi in Israel and received a get (Jewish religious divorce decree), but then made up with her, so they still live together (technically unmarried) with their two children.

After listening to all of this and writing down a time-line, I was exhausted. That’s when I remembered the New Testament’s woman at the well story and realized I was talking to a modern Man at the Well. I was tempted to tell him, but figured he probably was not familiar with the New Testament, and besides, I wanted him as a client, and the story probably would offend him. (Years ago, while rabbi at Tikvat Israel congregation, I did meet a woman who had been married 5 times, and I told her she reminded me of the woman at the well. As you can imagine, it didn’t go over too well – no pun intended.) I did tell him his story should be on a soap opera; I’m not sure he got it.

We discussed his case, and I thought he had a chance of returning to the States – maybe now as a Mormon. Wife or un-wife no. 4 then showed up with their two kids. They explained both kids were American citizens because they were born in the States, and now they all wanted to return to the States. I said there was no chance unless they were officially married. That set off a barrage of Hebrew between the two of them. I’m not sure what the problem was – I mean five times must be the charm.

After more research at home, I realized his case for re-entry to the States was weak. I informed him. He seemed discouraged. It’s also a pity because I probably lost a decent case. But I will always remember I met the Man at the Well.


We also met with two tour groups within the past week. Believe it or not, the first one was supposed to have included Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian and TV celebrity. Apparently, he got injured just before the trip and had to cancel, but we did meet his wife – very sweet woman. Stacy played some songs, and I shared our story. Folks were very interested and asked tons of questions. See the poor quality pic of Stacy and me answering questions. This particular tour was organized by our daughter, Amy, who works for a tour company here, so she and her boyfriend, Ephraim, were also present. They stayed with us over the weekend, and after services on Saturday, we went to a well-known site in Haifa that overlooks the Mediterranean. See the much better pic of Stacy and me.

The second group came from our former city, Richmond, and led by our very close friend and former co-worker, Paul Klassen. He brought with him many folks that we knew in Richmond. This time they came to our house, 25 strong, first piling out of the tour bus that probably unnerved our neighbors. We showed them the house, the destroyed wadi out back (grrrr!) and answered questions about life in Israel. We then met them the following night (last night) at their hotel where again Stacy played some songs, and I shared about our experiences.

Meeting the tour groups helped me formulate an idea of making our law firm better known and more available to Americans. Our firm is perfectly situated to offer services to American businesses or organizations that want to do business in Israel. I can represent American interests, and my partners can handle the Israeli side. So, I thought why not create a brochure about our firm in English that appealed to Americans and Europeans and then make them available to tour groups. Consequently, I designed a brochure that’s now at the printer. I’m attaching a copy for your interest.

The Richmond House

 Once again issues have arisen with our house in Richmond. When we moved, we contracted for a home warranty service to cover appliances in the house. We used it once for something small. Just recently, we were informed there were problems with the oven and washing machine. I told our friend who is managing the house to contact the warranty company. The warranty company informed him the contract ended a few weeks ago. I had renewed the policy in January, so I knew that didn’t make sense. I contacted the company from here who told me a payment on my credit card didn’t go through, so they canceled the policy. Of course, I was never informed, and when I called our bank about it (the card is a bank debit card), they had no record of any declines on the account, and there were sufficient funds in the account. I tried explaining it to the insurance company (you know what that’s like). The woman was like Robocop, simply repeating over and over that payment was not made; therefore the policy was canceled. According to her, there was nothing they could do. So, once again, we’re faced with another financial hit. I’m seriously considering contacting the mob and requesting their help to torch the place, and then I’ll take the insurance money. But seriously, we need prayer.

Adonai Shamah

 For those wanting to make tax deductible contributions to our ministry, you can send checks payable to Adonai Shamah Congregation (our congregation here), 2510 Stratford Road, Richmond, Virginia 23225. Thank you for your assistance.

 Lehitraot (see you later), Jamie Cowen