You’re Speaking Arabic? I Know Someone Who Would Want to Kill You Right Now

I am on the light rail with my friend who wears kippah. I am in a hoodie and have the hood pulled over my head (such that it is not clear whether I am wearing a kippah as well). We are speaking to each other in Arabic, as we often do: for fun, but here it feels like it has a new level of significance. People on the train are staring at us, jaws open. I say to my friend, in Arabic, I wonder what everyone thinks about us, who they think we are. And then an answer:

A petite, gentle-looking religiously dressed girl next to me says, in English:

“What language are you speaking?”

“Arabic,” I say.

“Are you Jews?”

“Yep,” I say.


“Uh, yeah. Real.”

“I know someone who would want to kill you right now.”

“Oh,” I say. “That’s… charming. Because we’re speaking in Arabic?”

“It’s a bitch language!” She says.

Zach chimes in, “You know, Maimonedes spoke and wrote in Arabic.”

The girl looks confused. We arrive at our stop, bid the girl and our fellow travelers a ma3 a-salaameh, and walk out into the Jerusalem night, amused and disturbed, sad and chuckling. Still speaking Arabic.