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This, yes this little moment, is my Jerusalem

An Egyptian Jew, two Arab women, a Yemenite Jew, and a guy from the American Midwest went for a bus ride...
A young girl sits with balloons with other muslim women at a bus stop in East Jerusalem. October 02, 2008. (Lara Savage/Flash90)
A young girl sits with balloons with other muslim women at a bus stop in East Jerusalem. October 02, 2008. (Lara Savage/Flash90)

On a crowded bus into town this morning – two old ladies from Abu Tor, one Arab, one Jewish.

Arab lady (in full hijab, but heavily made up) speaking Hebrew, Jewish Lady (elegantly dressed and wrapped in a cashmere shawl) speaking Arabic.

They’re having a friendly and animated discussion consisting chiefly of complaints, Jewish Lady complaining about the lousy job the tailor did fixing her leather purse, Arab lady complaining about the lousy weather this week, both complaining that their grandchildren don’t visit them enough.

Jewish lady says something in Arabic that I can’t quite make out but it makes the dark skinned, elderly guy with a black kippa across the aisle crack up.

Arab lady asks if he speaks Arabic. “Sure,” he says, “I’m Yemenite.”

Jewish lady says “Oh, I’m Egyptian. I can’t understand you guys’ Arabic at all.”

That cracks up another woman sitting nearby. Jewish lady asks if she also speaks Arabic. “I AM Arab,” she says.

That makes everyone crack up, including me.

Yemenite guy asks if I also speak Arabic. “Shwia” I say. “Just a little.”

Jewish lady sizes me up for a minute and says “Iraqi”?

“No,” I say. “Chicago.”

Now everyone on the bus is cracking up.

I love this town.

About the Author
Joshua Levinson is a tour guide who lives in Jerusalem.
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