I looked up when, among the mumbling, I heard the word ‘מעליב.’
Standing in a long, slow-moving line at a Staten Island department store, I suddenly felt at home. And yet, it wasn’t because I was in Staten Island, or a department store.
She turned around to complain about the long line in English, and then we chatted about the headphones she was holding. Helping her out with the specs, I was filled with a sense of wanting to hug this woman. Who, once upon a time on listening to her loud, unashamed Hebrew complaints, I would have smirked and thought, Oh, Israelis. But like seeing Sabra humus in a Costco, I had discovered a piece of home right there under the fluorescent lights of American shopping culture.
I had to say something once she mentioned she wanted to use them for a plane she’d be getting on shortly.
“So, you live here, or in Israel?”
We ended up switching to Hebrew and talking about our lives in short… She had moved to New York, and ended up in Chicago. I had left New York for Israel. She spoke Hebrew with her kids at home, and actually, her daughter has excellent Hebrew, “better than Israelis back b’aretz.” My kids speak English, and of course, expand their Hebrew vocabularies at their daycares. Her kids attend Jewish day schools – “absolutely, in America, you MUST give your children that.”
We parted ways to pay for our things and wished each other luck. In a way, I felt like this was my parallel universe, maybe ten years from now. With switched accents.
We make choices… we put faith in them… and some of us are fortunate enough to know deep down we’re living the right choice.