Thursday, July 20, 2006

Speaking to a 12-Year Old Haifa Girl

Yesterday afternoon, someone asked if we could give two cute 12-year old girls a ride to 7-11, pizza, and the movie theatre (where they would get picked up by an adult). The two girls were an interesting pair: Yasmine (Jasmine), of Queens, is the daughter of a Syrian mother and Israeli father (both Jewish); Sher, meanwhile, is visiting for a few weeks from Haifa, staying at her aunt. Yasmine is religious, while Sher is not, yet the two tweens have become fast friends.

While we were driving, I interrupted their smiling at and playing with Elianna, whom they adored immediately, to ask a question. I asked Sher if her family is concerned about what's going on in Haifa, considering how much it's been hit. She calmly responded, "Eh, not really... but my aunts/uncles and cousins in Israel were concerned, so they gave my family money to go down (south) to Eilat. They're staying in a hotel there." We then asked her if she herself was concerned. "No, not at all." After a short pause, she added what many young Israelis add on short trips to America: "I want to stay here!" We laughed, explained that New York is a great place to visit, terrible to live, and her good friend Yasmine seemed to agree.

Sher doesn't want to stay, but it is simply because she's having a great time, as evidenced by their little outing. In just the 15 minutes they were with us, we could see them having a fun time, sipping on their slurpees, buying tickets for their movie, and getting some pizza. When it comes down to it, however, I'm willing to bet that Sher walks straight onto the plane without hesitation. Sher may be too young to appreciate all that's happening, but she's responding much as I remember Israelis responding when I was in Israel amidst all the suicide bombings - aware of all that's happening, but going on with their lives.