Wings with a Message

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Levi Yitzchak Babai, a young man who pulled himself up by his boot straps, is flying high. Several weeks after his recent graduation from Boys Town Jerusalem’sCollege of Applied Engineering (CAE), 21‐year‐old Levi will be enlisting in the Israeli Air Force where his electronics skills will be utilized to the fullest. But before leaving Boys Town, the young man extended a heartfelt thank‐you via a very special messenger: he dispatched one of his prized pet carrier pigeons to flutter a double message of appreciation to his mother Ahuva(in Yavne, over 50 miles away), and his “Boys Town mother,” registrar Rachel Cohen‐Pur.

One of 14 children (whose father is unemployed), Levi Yitzchak has worked hard for his every accomplishment. Schoolwork never came easy, and he repeated a grade before graduating high school with a major in electronics and computers. Yet, he was accepted to the Israel Air Force’s competitive “Shachak” program, which expedites the recruitment of top‐level soldiers into technical support teams for combat aircraft. Shachak participants first spend two years of specialized studies in an IAF‐selected academic institution, including Boys Towns’ College of Applied Engineering. “I chose Boys Town because it’s the only institution to offer a full program of Jewish studies, in addition to the intensive electronics studies,” Levi explained.

Levi’s love of animals has pervaded his life, and his Boys Town experience. At home, his trained carrier pigeons live alongside rabbits, ducks, chinchillas, and parrots. “These pigeons have an innate, precision ‘GPS’ that guides them,” he explained. Levi notes that his CAE senior engineering project, an ultrasonic distance‐detection instrument, was inspired by the natural directional skill of the pigeon and the spatial sense of the bat.

Levi will soon begin his four‐year stint in the Air Force. But before graduating from Boys Town, he could not leave without expressing his gratitude to the school’s registrar Rachel Cohen‐Pur, “who cared for and helped me like a mother.” His face shining, Levi brought a snow‐white carrier pigeon from home by bus to the registrar’s office, to the delight of “Mother Rachel,” as she is called. Carefully affixing a thank‐you note to the pigeon’s foot, he released the bird from Rachel’s window. All eyes in the busy registrar’s office turned heavenward as the bird spread its wings, circled the building several times to get its bearing, and set off in the direction of Yavne to deliver the note to Levi’s mother. “It was my way of saying thank‐you to both Rachel and my mother,” Levi smiled. “Rachel represents the heart and soul of Boys Town, from where I will now make my own journey skyward.”

Ahuva Babai phoned just over an hour later to confirm the bird’s landing, and to express her own happiness and gratitude at Levi’s soaring success.

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