When an American Sem Girl Took a Wrong Turn in the Old City

When an American Sem Girl Took a Wrong Turn in the Old City

My husband, Joshua, is the director of a post-high school Torah-study program for girls. Here’s the incredible story he heard this week from his student, Avigail Besser. 

Last Thursday, I was walking to the Kotel, but I’m not so good at directions, and it was at night. And before I knew it, I’d walked down the wrong alleyway.

So I was in a random alleyway in the Old City. And then I realized that my phone had died! And I started to freak out a little bit.

And then I saw a Charedi couple walking towards me, what a relief!

So I said to them “Slicha, where is the Kotel?”

And the wife answered, “We’re also on our way to the Kotel. Come with us.”

So, as we were walking, I asked her, “Where you from?”

“We’re from Bnei Brak.”

“Oh, wow. My mom grew up there.”

“Really? What’s her name?”

“Her family name was Malul.”

Malul is a very Moroccan name, and there aren’t a lot of Moroccans in Bnei Brak.

And then the wife said, “That’s so interesting, Malul is a name in my husband’s family.”

To which I responded, “My grandmother, Simi Malul had a shop there.”

And then the husband, who hadn’t said a word to me until then because I’m a girl, jumped up and called out, “I know you’re family! I grew up across the street from them! My grandfather and your grandmother were siblings!”

And then the husband started telling me all about my family, and my grandfather Saba David, and how I look like the Maluls he knew in Bnei Brak.

I had thought they were a random Charedi couple, and they are my cousins! I was literally crying.

They asked me where my family lives now, and I told them that when my grandmother got sick, her family moved to the US, and my family ended up in Boston.

And then they insisted on buying me a cup of tea to warm me up. And I’m going to them this week for Shabbos.

Who would have thought? Only in Israel, right?

I got lost in the Old City, and at first it was really scary. But in the end, I found my family.



  1. That is so beautiful! I’m crying!

  2. This is such an “only in Israel” sort of story. It isn’t even a surprise that something like this would happen.

  3. faygie borchardt

    I love, love, love this story!

  4. Great story, but I’m not liking the fact that this girl (who self admitted that she’s not so good with directions) attempted to walk to the Kotel alone at night. Girls (and women) should not go anywhere alone at night, especially in areas where a wrong turn leads to dangerous places.

  5. We-ism Not Me_ism. I am is so much pain from crumbling on my ankle and getting a cast. In the hospital seeing so much caring Not Hate.Stop writing hate and spreading it. One state solution with love.

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