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Strangers on a plane

I noticed the woman looking at me while I spoke. 'Are you Israeli?' she asked

I didn’t have a chance to tell you about the woman on the plane.

She had a scarf around her head, glossy blue.

A pendant in Arabic around her neck. That was in gold.

I called my kids to say I loved them — half in Hebrew half in English like we mermaids do.

“Sweetheart, Metuka sheli,” I said to my daughter. “My darling, chamud sheli,” I said to my son. “I miss you already my babies, see you in a few days, mama loves you.”

I noticed the woman looking at me while I spoke, her lips pursed, but her eyes smiling.

“Are you Israeli?” she asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“I thought so. I’m from South Lebanon. I was a child during the war with Israel. So I’ve heard Hebrew before, and I recognize it.”

Her voice was dark like tinted glass and she let that sentence hang in the air, and I thought about how she must know Hebrew, from soldiers shouting through megaphones, from news clips and broadcasts, and from her own nightmares as a child.

“I see,” I said.

And then she smiled and her face softened.

“But this was the first time I heard Hebrew through a mother’s words in a mother’s voice,” she said. “So thank you.”

We smiled at each other, as the plane took off into a clear blue sky.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and she is moving to the Old City of Jerusalem for a year to live three months in each quarter—Jewish, Christian, Armenian and Muslim—to write a book. She is a work in progress.
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