Sunday Morning Groceries & Conversation
I pull my full cart to the checkout line. A young woman with dark, straight hair smiles at me. My eyes are immediately drawn to the large wooden cross necklace she wears. It is prominent and obvious, and she is proud of it. She is interesting and I’ve never seen her before. I have frequented this store and others in the same chain for years, and the only Arabs in the store are those who work in the deli, re-stock shelves, organize produce and, on rare occasion, bag groceries. I’ve never seen an Arab work at the cash register.
I greet her. She greets me in return. She speaks Hebrew well, with a slight but noticeable Arab accent. We chat as she begins ringing up the items as I bag them. Her Hebrew sounds too good to be from Jerusalem. Most Palestinian Jerusalemite women speak limited Hebrew and they generally have stronger accents.
What’s your name? “Mary.”
Where are you from, Mary? “Nazareth.” A fitting name from Nazareth, I tell her, smiling. She smiles back.
What brings you to Jerusalem? “A guy,” she says, her face becoming animated. She has been living in Jerusalem for six years. He is from Bethlehem.
What do you think of Jerusalem, I ask her? “Jerusalem is beautiful, there is no doubt. And difficult. I have traveled in many countries in Europe and it is so peaceful, so light there. Here, it is heavy.” I agree.
I am happy you are here, Mary. I love it when people from northern cities come to Jerusalem. Generally in the north and in mixed cities, Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians know how to live with more tolerance than we have in our city.
“In Jerusalem, it’s so hard,” she says. Yes, I fully agree. But it means we have a lot of work to do, and we can only do it if we work together. She smiles at me, nodding slightly. “May God bless you, Mary. I hope to see you again,” I say as I leave.