Skip to content

16 March 2012 (Who boiled the water? | お湯を沸かしたのは誰?)

March 16, 2012

When we were at a market the other day, I saw a vegetable vendor speaking in Hebrew to a customer who was talking back to him in Arabic. But they seemed to be understanding each other perfectly.

“Was one of them speaking in Hebrew and the other in Arabic?” I asked Yuval just to confirm.

Yes, he replied, then said, “Oh, that reminds me of something I saw the other day that even I had a hard time believing,” and then proceeded to tell me the story.

It was definitely a story I wanted to share here, and figured why not let the man himself tell it. So without further ado, here is Yuval with his first guest post!




* * * * *

Hi Everyone,

My name is Yuval and I guess those of you who have been following Kaori’s blog over the last year or so know me as Y. turned into Yuval.

Today I was finally invited to do something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time, which is to write a ‘Guest Post’ (jeez, I feel like a radio star on ‘This American Life’ just by the sound of it).

So, here it is from last Tuesday (true story).


It was around 5 pm, and I was about an hour away from home when I stopped at a gas station half way from Tel Aviv to our countryside Kibbutz for a coffee break. I entered the convenience store located next to the pumps and situated between an Arab bakery and one of the coffee shop chains always to be found in Israeli gas stations, picked up a can of cold coffee and went to the counter to pay.

When I got there I saw a young religious looking Jewish man talking to the two Arab guys behind the counter.

“We have a special deal this month,” said the younger of the two to the religious looking guy. “If you spend more than 20 shekels (5 Dollars) you can get an espresso for only two shekels.”

“And… who is boiling the water?” I was amazed to hear the religious guy’s answer.

The two Arab guys looked puzzled. It was clear they had no idea what the Jewish man was talking about, and they didn’t understand the question.

“Well, the machine is boiling the water,” the younger one replied.

“Ah, and who does the machine belong to?” the religious costumer continued.

“To the chain,” came the answer.

At this stage, the two guys behind the counter were starting to get agitated. Though clueless about the reason behind these strange questions, they seem to understand that it had something to do with fact that they were Arab.

As I saw the looks they exchanged with each other I decided it was time to step in and stop what was obviously about to end badly.

“It’s a kosher thing,” I told them from where I was waiting behind the religious man.

“What do you mean?” the older man looked at me.

“He belongs to those who believe that Jews should only eat and drink what was prepared by Shabbat observing Jews,” I answered.

“You are joking,” the young Arab said.

“No, he wouldn’t drink it even if I made it. Just ignore it, he is not allowed to take it and just doesn’t know how to say it.”

The young religious Jew turned toward me embarrassed.

“Thank you, I didn’t want to be rude so I asked about the water. This way it does not sound racist,” he said.

“Next time just say no,” I told him, “only Jews know these things and it sounds terrible to those who don’t.”

“You’re right,” he answered as he turned back to the two Arab guys at the counter.

“Thank you and I am sorry,” he told them and left the shop.

The two guys looked at him leaving, looked at each other, and then at me.

“What was that? Is he crazy?” the older one asked me.

“In a way he is,” I answered as I paid for my coffee and turned for the door.

“Drive safely!” The younger one shouted after me.

* * * * *





























Much love,
Kaori (and Yuval)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Abby permalink
    March 17, 2012 12:01 am


    That’s a great story. And great how you stepped in to bridge the cultural divide.

    I hope you will guest blog again soon.


    PS. Mazal tov on your recent nuptials!

    • Yuval permalink
      March 17, 2012 9:00 am

      Hi Abby,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I’ll be happy to post more, but K. need to approve it first.


  2. March 19, 2012 12:10 am

    What a great story. Kaori, you’re lucky to have a partner who can write so eloquently about relevant things — mine can’t seem to move beyond relating all topics to the universal significance of basketball. Yuval’s guest posts (I also hope he writes more!) could even come with a Hebrew translation too.

    • Yuval permalink
      March 19, 2012 6:42 pm

      Hi Katie,
      I’m glad you liked the story, and PLEASE encourage
      K. this way more 😉

    • March 19, 2012 8:10 pm

      I would actually love to hear some things in relation to the significance of basketball, it might be interesting! Although I must admit, maybe not on ALL topics… 🙂

      Yuval is quite the story teller, and he is all about the details! I hope he guest posts again soon. The Hebrew element is something I thought of too and hope to include it next time.

      He used to write stories while living in Japan and would send it out to his friends in Word documents. Too bad it was before the blog world caught on fire!

  3. March 21, 2012 9:40 pm

    Ah, cultural differences. And there can be similarities. While in Paris recently for a residency, we made friends with a Tunisian glass artist (he was wearing a NY Yankee cap & at first I thought he was an American.) He and my husband met up for some tea and to speak about glass art. He told my husband he didn’t drink wine and was a practicing Muslim. I invited him for dinner and told him that I’d cook fish, the meal would have no meat. He was delighted that I understood and a few weeks later took us to a hallal restaurant. I said that we get it, Hallal, Kosher, and he understood that Muslims and Jews getting together over food was a very good thing. Thanks for this post.

    • March 22, 2012 6:28 am

      That is beautiful Mim! That image of you, your husband, and that man sharing delicious food and understanding each other makes me happy.


  1. 18 March 2012 « Meuleh! מעולה | Meuleh | メウレ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: