I live in a community that is only populated by Jews and my neighboring towns are predominantly Jewish. Since the almost daily knife attacks began a few months ago, I haven’t ventured far from home. I could pretend there are other reasons why but if I am going to be honest with you, I’ll have to admit that I stay close to home because I feel safer and more secure that way.
This weekend, we took a trip to Eilat and for the first time since our family made Aliyah, and maybe for the first time in my life, we were completely outnumbered by Arabs. There were more Arabs than Jews at night on the boardwalk, at the mall, on the ice skating rink, in the arcade, and at the beach.
There were Arabs everywhere.
Some were noticeably Arab because of their clothing and others were only identifiable to me because of the Arabic they were speaking.
We were completely surrounded by Arabs and we were all having fun.
The Arabs and my family. Side by side.
Everyone was smiling, taking pictures of their children, using their selfie sticks and thoroughly enjoying their vacations.
An Arab mom and I stood next to each other as we watched our children go round and round on the carousel, each of us calling out to our kids and waving every time they passed us and then laughing with each other.
One chilly evening, as an Arab women walked by us, she affectionately and gently reached out to touch my 7 year old daughter’s bare legs, making a sympathetic comment on how cold she must be.
And I have to admit that my 14 and 12 year old daughters had more fun hanging out and talking to the young Arab family than to the four Chassidic boys on their boat when they went parasailing.
My 14 year old was surprised at their stylish dress, their strong command of the English language and more surprised that they came from Jerusalem. “Practically neighbors with us,” she shrugged and smiled.
As a recent olah, being outnumbered by Arabs reminded me and taught my daughters that they are like us. And we are like them. Putting all of our pain and politics aside, they have families, they enjoy vacationing and playing video games in the arcade and even they love taking selfies as much as we do. And that’s a vacation memory I don’t want us to forget.