Real Israelis

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A36 semgirl6

Youssef was waiting for us in the plaza in front of the Damascus Gate.  When we got close enough that we could see him sitting on one of the steps leading up to the street, Sami slowed his pace a little.

“He doesn’t speak Hebrew, and just a little English.”

I nodded.  When Youssef saw us he stood up and dropped the cigarette he had been smoking.  He didn’t step on the butt, and as he approached I watched the embers glow orange and then die.

He was taller than Sami, and slimmer, but his face was the same, the skin tight on his cheeks and his chin very square.  He wore glasses with thin metal frames, and his hair needed to be cut, but he was good-looking, and wore a shirt I remembered seeing on Sami a few weeks earlier.

“Hello,” he said, and put his hand out.  I blinked, but then took it and we shook hands awkwardly.

“Hi, I’m Yael.” I forced a smile.

“Youssef.”  His voice was like Sami’s, too, but louder and less hesitant.

“American?”  It was a question, and I nodded but didn’t say anything.  I put my hands in my pockets then, and looked at the ground.

Youssef said something to Sami then, the two of them going back in forth in Arabic for a few minutes.  I tried to gauge the tone of Youssef’s voice, hearing what I thought was doubt, but might have just been exhaustion.  Youssef shook his head at one point, and then Sami laughed and I looked up.  Youssef asked something in Arabic, and Sami translated it for me.

“When do you go back to America?”

“In June,” I said, staring at Youssef.

“You like him?” he asked then, nodding toward Sami.

“Yes.”  My voice was quiet, but I could tell he heard because he exhaled through his nose and then shrugged.

“Okay.”  He shook my hand again and then looked back at Sami who said something in Arabic.  Youssef smiled and gave me a little wave before walking back towards the gate.  Sami moved closer to me then, and when he touched my back I realized I was shaking.

“My cab is in the parking lot,” he said in Hebrew, pointing across the street.

“Yeah,” I said.

Continue reading…

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Author of Jewrotica's Double Mitzvah column, Tamar Fox is a writer and editor in Philadelphia. She will try anything once, including open relationships, dating someone who is chalav yisrael, and going to Suriname.
  • This IS a longer piece but it’s riveting. The characters are so… real and the story captivates. In addition to the relationship between Sami and Yael, I enjoyed the Jerusalem area descriptions and the light-hearted poking at seminary culture, as both are quite familiar to me and near to my heart (perhaps in a distant sort of way.)

    Keep on writing, Tamar!

  • Brutal read. I felt like I was an intruder. Quality writing though, that’s for sure.

  • That was a brutal read. I felt like I was an intruder, looking into someone’s private life, trying hard not to be judgmental but incapable of ignoring the queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    • Anonymous Internet Commenter

      Hm. Why queasy/judgmental? Cause the guy was an Arab?

      I thought this story was gorgeously written. Good job, Tamar.

  • Banana

    I love how the story was written. It was lengthy but worthwhile. What made me annoyed is how easy it was the the main character to use her religion to shield herself away from the guy after she used him. It’s not a negative statement about writing.. in fact it’s admiration that the author was able to pick up on something so culturally prevalent. Its fascinating to me because I feel it happens so often.. religious men and women want what they can’t have, they desire sexuality more so when paid attention to than when not and they okay themselves to lose control with someone that they darn well know they will never.. ever end up with. (I don’t mean to sound all inclusive.. obviously there are exceptions… )

  • OnTimeJew

    Damn, that was hot. I love how the story built up and the characters came alive before the sexual tension (and release) happened. And a great end to the story!

  • Adalia

    Wow, thank you for sharing this. It was INTENSE and it brought back sooooo many memories of being new in Israel and Naive. And of the endless heartbreaking stories I listened to as girls came home to our seminary dorms in the early morning hours, many times in tears and with shame.

  • Karalyn Dane

    reminds me of the first time I was with a guy who wasn’t circumcised…there’s nothing sweeter than what’s forbidden…

  • Reading this story gave me chills – literally.

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