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Miriam and Uri ­– Extraordinary Siblings

An Arab nurse and a well-known Jewish chef love each other as siblings do. They have spent most of their lives going through thick and thin together… How could that be? In the video on this page Miriam will tell you her story.

We visit Miriam at her home in Kfar Yasif in Northern Israel on an extremely hot day. Thankfully we accept the cold, homemade lemonade she offers us in her cozy living room. "I’m a person who likes to give." We believe every word of this petite, gracious person who has been a dedicated nurse for more than 40 years.

Her own life, however, has not always been easy, and while Ofer, our filmmaker, is still setting up his equipment, she starts telling me about it in fluent German. As a child, she and her family had to leave their Arab village during the Israeli War of Independence. They came to Kfar Yasif, where a Jewish man from German origin looked after the impoverished. In his family, she found loving acceptance and picked up the German language.

This close interpersonal relationship has continued to this day. Uri, the son of the Jeremias family, is by now the widely known and popular owner of the legendary fish restaurant Uri Buri in Akko. At a birthday party the year before I had thoroughly enjoyed the delicacies served there and was therefore familiar with his reputation. Besides, he runs the small and stylish hotel "Efendi" in this picturesque seaside town. For this purpose Uri had an Ottoman era building carefully and lavishly renovated. Even German television reported on this project.

"I am particularly happy that even our children and grandchildren are in close contact with each other and that they as well feel like family" Miriam emphasizes. Naturally, we also want to talk to her "Jewish brother", as she affectionately calls Uri. But first Miriam insists that we taste the best hummus to be found in Kfar Yasif. As a German, I simply cannot miss out on enjoying the local specialties!

When we finally leave for Akko, which is a mere half an hour away by car, a box of Uri´s favorite biscuits must be taken along. Miriam baked the goodies herself on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter Holidays which had taken place a short time before.

The joy of seeing each other again is great; just like Miriam, Uri readily talks about their unusual friendship. He is an imposing figure with great presence which almost intimidates me. But my shyness subsides somewhat when he explains what is particularly important to him in his relationships with others: “When I am invited to seminars, I don't just talk about cooking, but also about how important it is to have respect for one another as the basis for harmonious coexistence. You don't have to fervently love one another, but respect is most essential." These words again confirm my conviction that the “I respect U” message is viable and livable, even when facing the difficulties of daily life in a complex setting.

And as we bid farewell and I'm alone with Uri for a moment, he says to me in German: "Miriam is really a big-hearted loving spirit". The way he says it, somehow makes me suspect that anyone who fails to appreciate this truth needs to deal with him. A big brother protecting his sister, as simple as that! It really touches me how Uri and Miriam understand the other's inner values and how irrelevant it is for them to which ethnic group the other belongs. And it greatly encourages me …

To start the video please click the arrow in the center of the second photo from the top.

Video: Miriam

The Port of Akko

Akko, the Courtyard of the Mosque

View from the Efendi Hotel

Fishermen in the Port of Akko