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Love is love in Jerusalem

Shadi the Arab cop in Jerusalem got married last year

He married a woman named Shlomit.
Shlomit has a cascade of  red hair spilling down her back  like newly minted pennies, and eyes the color of bitter chocolate.

Shomit is a Jew.

While not unheard of, inter-marriage between Arabs and Jews isn’t common – although Shadi and Shlomit hope that changes.

“We had to go abroad to get married,” Shlomit tells me. “Israel doesn’t have civil marriage – which means only Jews can marry Jews, Muslims can marry Muslims, and Christians can marry Christians — unless you fly to Cyprus, and get an internationally recognized marriage”

“Sounds like a wedding and a honeymoon all at once,” I say.

Shlomit rolls her eyes “we shouldn’t have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to be together legally. What do you leftist Americans say? ‘Love is love?’ Besides, we’d rather honeymoon in Ireland, but after taking time off work and budgeting for Cyprus, we couldn’t afford it.”

Shlomit is nine months pregnant. It looks like she swallowed the moon

She goes to Clalit in Ramat Eshkol for her prenatal appointments.

She told me she appreciates how the doctors and nurses never bat an eye when they realize that she and Shadi are a mixed couple.

Last week, she and Shadi were in the waiting room. Shadi was on his way to a police shift so he was uniform. There was another couple in the waiting room – young, adorable – also pregnant… the woman was round and glow-y. Her eyes sparkled. Her husband had a kipa, and a short dark beard.

“When are you due?” The other woman asked Shlomit.

“Any day,” Shlomit answered and patted her belly.

“Where do you want to give birth?”

“Hadassah Mt. Scopus…”

“Ugh! Why??? I mean, it’s nice but all the Arabs go there!” The other woman said.

“Doesn’t matter to me,” Shlomit said. “I like that it’s a mixed hospital”

“Oh well it isn’t like I hate Arabs,” the other woman said. “They aren’t all terrible –  it’s just they always being their whole family – the Hamula – to the birth, and it’s annoying – it’s primitive, you know?”

“I think it’s nice that family comes,” Shlomit answered.

She looked over at Shadi sitting next to her in his police uniform and could see he was trying not to laugh.

His phone pinged.

“Sweetie,” Shadi said. “My mom texted that she wants me to call. So, sorry – I don’t want to bother you all while you chat about hospitals and the Arabs, but I don’t want to anger the hamula, either.”

And then as the other woman and her husband stared with their mouths open wide enough to catch flies, Shadi the police officer called his mother and spoke to her in Arabic.

“Usually he’s quiet when he’s on the phone,” Shlomit later tells me. “But davka there in the waiting room in front of the other woman who said those racist things, he put his hand on my belly and spoke as loud as he could. Because while it may not matter to the other couple or change their opinion about Arabs … one day it’ll matter to his son.”

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel, She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems. She now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors and talks to strangers, and writes stories about people. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She also loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.
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