I do not know how to start, but I do know how to end. So I’ll start with the end.
I really miss you Oved, and forever will. A lot will be said about Oved’s academic achievements in this conference, so I would like to share with you some of my experiences with Oved on a personal level.
I got to know Oved when we met as students some 15+ years ago. Israelies seem to be very open, but they are actually quite reserved. When you get to talk about the intimate things it is when you really find yourself close to a person, and over the years we learned a lot about each other. As Oved used to say: “there are good and bad things about this fact”. “The good thing”, he used to say “is that if I had ever wanted to destroy you I can. Unfortunately, the bad thing is that you can do the same”. Of course this was said jokingly as I was always sure that nothing will be revealed. It was almost like depositing a note in the “Kotel”.
Since our political opinions were as far apart as east from west we could not really talk about this favorite topic among Israelies, so we were restricted to the more down to earth issues, as the families, the friends and the philosophical views on life. As all of you know, Oved and his family lived for a while in Providence RI. At that time we lived in Connecticut, so we have had many opportunities to meet and work together. We spent numerous weekends working on a paper that we never published, maybe because we always wanted to make sure we need to meet again. It is hard, almost unrealistic, for me to talk about Oved in past tense, and every so often I reflect on the long conversations we had, many of which had hardly to do with economics.
While we are often caught in a race to succeed and do more, and while Oved had his ambitions in the profession, he never lost sight of what was really important in life: the family, the wife, the kids, and the country. Every time we met, I had first to give him a detailed overview about the recent developments with my daughter, who happened to be born with Daun syndrome. There were time when I was anxious to hear about his recent success, or tell him about mine, but he always used to say “Azov otcha me’shtuyot (leave the nonsense aside) first tells me about the family”. Occasionally he did not, but that was only because he first had a long chat with my wife, who he claimed was the normal one, just like his wife Ariella.
Oved could have been very successful in any American University, but he preferred to be where he felt most comfortable, namely Israel. He was very devoted to Israel and everything connected to Israel. Oved was not a big talker. But when you brought up questions about the School of Economics at Tel Aviv, it was hard to stop him. He always had plans for the department and the students, and he always had the optimistic views about what can be done and what would make the department at Tel Aviv a center, if not the center for research on economics. Oved’s interests spanned over many areas and he had broad interests in many fields. In an era where people choose, or feel forced, to specialize in very specific areas, Oved was a unique all around economist. And he was a source for great pride, for his coauthors and colleagues, and above all, his family.
People around the profession know very little about his service in the Israeli army, specifically because he was not so keen talking about it. Oved served in one of the elite units in the Israeli navy and was the commander of a war ship. In a country where every one likes to brag and exaggerates about all the things he did do, Oved was a unique person. He said very little about his service, and was only concerned about whether he did all the things he should and could have done. I am sure that if we had few more Oveds- the country of Israel would have been one of the most prosperous countries on earth, and the world a much more pleasant place to live. Oved was a great dad and husband, a very dear friend, and a great colleague, but above all, a real MENCH, and he forever will be remembered like that. I really miss you my dear friend.