Technion intern compares 3 cultures while in Bay Area

"Romanian girls wear lots of makeup and very sexy clothes because they want to be married sooner; Israeli girls dress more modest and wear less makeup."

As for American girls, they fall in between both categories, said Remus Koos, a graduate student from Haifa's Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Koos, 29, who completed an internship last week at the Inter HDL software company in Los Gatos, got first-hand experience in comparing three cultures this summer. Through a Technion program that takes in students from Eastern Europe, he also had the opportunity to work in the United States.

He was one of eight in the Bay Area.

He also discovered that his ethnic identity seems to change from country to country. In Romania and the United States, Koos said others consider him Jewish. Israel is another story.

"My father is Jewish, but my mother is Romanian," he said. "According to the Jewish religion I'm not Jewish.

"It's a weird situation: Because my father's Jewish, I am allowed to live in Israel [and] have Israeli citizenship but cannot marry in Israel unless I convert."

Koos, who is on his way back to Haifa after a trip to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, speaks fluent Hebrew. Through Technion's absorption program, he learned about Jewish and Israeli customs.

Ever since Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika initiated the collapse of the Iron Curtain, thousands of Eastern Europe's brightest Jewish students have flooded into the 11,000-student Technion.

"We are the MIT of Israel and produce 75 percent of all engineers and scientists living in Israel today," said Jack K. Kadesh, the San Francisco regional director for the American Society for Technion.

Through Technion's program, Koos learned electrical engineering and computer studies. During his Silicon Valley internship, he learned how to make software programs for designing computer chips more user-friendly.

Coming from a country with few opportunities in modern technological fields, Koos jumped at the chance to take Technion's entrance exam. In 1993, after graduating from a Romanian university, he passed the exam and made aliyah.

After a barrage of vaccinations, he and 20 other Eastern Europeans blitzed through an intensive Hebrew class.

"It still seems a wonder that I could speak Hebrew after two months of learning," said Koos, now trilingual.

He later found work as a software engineer for Tel-Rad, an Israeli communications firm. He is now completing his master's degree at Technion in electrical engineering, although his actual field of study is computer technology.

Ten years from now, Koos plans on leading a team in an American or Israeli software company.

Like many Eastern European emigres, his relationship to Judaism remains somewhat unresolved. He has thought of converting, but was put off when he was discouraged, a practice rabbis frequently employ with prospective converts. But if and when he marries in Israel, he has strong feelings about the faith of his future children.

"If I have a family in Israel, my children should be Jewish," Koos said.