His father, Moses Samuels, is the caretaker of Musmeah Yeshua ("Salvation of Joshua"), the only synagogue in Myanmar.
grandfather and his
great-grandfather were Jewish community leaders.One day, Samuels
expects to carry on the tradition.His
father also runs a travel agency called Myanmar Shalom, which specializes in Jewish tourism, and it was through a tourist that Samuels
made the Yeshiva connection.
"If it wasn't for tourists, I wouldn't be here," Samuels
said."It was a visitor to the synagogue who told me about Yeshiva University
and offered to carry my application back to New York and deliver it personally.That's how I got here."
There is a Burmese community in New York, mostly in the Jackson Heights and Elmhurst sections of Queens, but Samuels
has not gotten involved with it.Instead, every summer, he
flies home to visit and catch up on events there.
Earlier this year, he
celebrated Passover at home for the first time in three years.One of his
duties, as the youngest person present, was to find a piece of matzoh hidden before the Seder and exchange it for a prize."That's something kids usually do," he