By Hillel E. Silverman
When the Old and New Cities of Jerusalem were reunited in
1967, a recently widowed Arab woman, who had been living in Old Jerusalem since
1948, wanted to see once more the house in which she formerly lived. Now that
the city was one, she searched for and found her old home. She knocked on the
door of the apartment, and a Jewish widow came to the door and greeted her. The
Arab woman explained that she had lived there until 1948 and wanted to look
around. She was invited in and offered coffee. The Arab woman said, "When I
lived here, I hid some valuables. If they are still here, I will share them with
you half and half."
The Jewish woman refused. "If they belonged to you and
are still here, they are yours." After much discussion back and forth, they
entered the bathroom, loosened the floor planks, and found a hoard of gold
coins. The Jewish woman said, "I shall ask the government to let you keep
them." She did and permission was granted.
The two widows visited each other again and again, and one
day the Arab woman told her, "You know, in the 1948 fighting here, my
husband and I were so frightened that we ran away to escape. We grabbed our
belongings, took the children, and each fled separately. We had a
three-month-old son. I thought my husband had taken him, and he thought I had.
Imagine our grief when we were reunited in Old Jerusalem to find that neither of
us had taken the child."
The Jewish woman turned pale, and asked the exact date. The
Arab woman named the date and the hour, and the Jewish widow told her: "My
husband was one of the Israeli troops that entered Jerusalem. He came into this
house and found a baby on the floor. He asked if he could keep the house and the
baby, too. Permission was granted."
At that moment, a twenty-year-old Israeli soldier in
uniform walked into the room, and the Jewish woman broke down in tears.
"This is your son," she cried.
This is one of those incredible tales we hear. And the aftermath? The two women liked each other so much that the Jewish widow asked the Arab mother: "Look, we are both widows living alone. Our children are grown up. This house has brought you luck. You have found your son, or our son. Why don't we live together?"
And they do.