Real Israelis

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A36 semgirl

As soon as we got off the highway Sami pulled onto a side street and stopped the car.  I had no idea what was going on, and for the first of many times I felt a lightness in my chest, a loose cold fear at what I might have agreed to, what could happen next.  He got out of the car and opened the door for me.  I stood up slowly, feeling stupid and naïve and wishing I could remember anything I learned in the self-defense classes they made us take in high school.  Sami closed my door for me and then led me to the other side of the car and opened the front passenger-side door.  When I realized what was going on, I smiled, relief loosening my body.  I sat down next to him and buckled my seat belt as Sami reversed us back onto the road toward my seminary.

“It’s so much nicer to have you here, where I can see you,” he said at the stoplight.  “You’re very beautiful.”

Of course I was not beautiful, but I appreciated the possibility that my lack of beauty didn’t matter to Sami.  I paused for a moment, trying to decide if he was lying to me, or just mistaken.  I could not decide, so I laughed.

“You’re very nice to me,” I said.  “Thank you.”

“Thank you,” he said, and I examined his profile as he drove.  He was not beautiful, either, I decided, considering the flat wide arc of his forehead and the fullness of his lips.  But he was pleasant-looking, and I liked the waves of dark hair that reached down the back of his neck, grazing the top of his collar.

We were close to my seminary then, in the neighborhood where all the streets are named after prophets.  Sami swung us around a roundabout and said, “Should I call you tomorrow?”

“Send me a text message,” I said.

He pushed a button on the meter that was keeping track of our journey from the bus station to my seminary, and it spit a receipt at him, which he tore off and handed to me, along with a pen that was sliding up and down the dashboard.

“Give me your phone number,” he said.

This was where I could have given him a fake number.  The possibility was there, and as I started to write I looked over at him and saw him worrying, saw that he knew I had this option, too.  I put the pen back on the dashboard.

“If you tell me your phone number, I’ll just call you right now, and then we’ll know that we have each other’s numbers,” I said, and took my cell phone out of my purse.

A few minutes later we pulled up in front of the crumbling grey building where I lived with 57 other girls.  The daytime security guard was a woman, and she squinted at me as I got out of the front seat of the cab, then leaned back in toward Sami.  I had money for my fare in my hand, and I tilted it towards him, but he shook his head.

“I’ll talk to you soon,” I said.

He grinned.  “Bye-bye.”

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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