The Arab’s Wife

The Arab’s Wife
As I already mentioned, my daughter invited me to attend a silent meditation Arab-Jewish peace retreat last week. For 2 days we were all silent and then we finally spoke to share our experiences at the final closing session.
The first to share was an Arab man who was attending the retreat with his wife: “I want to say that this experience makes me appreciate how much I love my wife of 27 years, she is truly the light of my life!” His wife smiled bashfully.
After the session I approached the wife to ask a question: “Your husband mentioned you are married for 27 years, and I’m also married for 27 years! What date was your wedding?”
The wife explained that they celebrate their anniversary on March 12, just two days before Josh and me!
But then she said, “That was the date that we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. But we actually officially got married 6 years later abroad, because we couldn’t get married in Israel.”
And then I noticed that the wife spoke perfect Israeli Hebrew, without an Arabic accent.
We spoke for a while more, about their story, about how they met when they were working at the same hotel, and how they spent 5 years outside of Israel, but came back because they wanted to be close to their families when the oldest of their 3 children was born. They live in a Jewish city which is mostly religious, “My husband and I, we are, well, different…But I have all sorts of friends, this kind of religious, that kind of religious.”
And she repeated a sentiment several of the Jewish participants shared with me, “Chana, I was so surprised when I saw you here at the retreat! A religious woman, all dressed up for Shabbat! It was wonderful, like you brought Shabbat here!”
I’ve been thinking about this incredibly sweet woman ever since I got home. While it’s unusual to meet a Jew married to an Arab, meeting an intermarried Jew is far from unusual. In some parts of the world there are more intermarried Jews than Jews with Jewish spouses.
Rosh Hashana is challenging. 2 days of intense davening and mothering and cooking and cleaning up. But it’s also an opportunity to remember the obvious. The blessing of being married, when so many women are still searching. The blessing of being a mom, when so many women are still waiting to become mothers.
And Tali, the Arab’s wife, reminded me of the blessing of having a Jewish spouse, of raising a family in a home with 2 Jewish parents. So many Jewish moms and dads celebrate Rosh Hashana this year and every year, all alone. 

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email