A struggle on my favorite rooftop in Jerusalem

There was a struggle on one of my favorite roofs in Jerusalem – the roof where the four quarters of the old city are pieced together.

A Palestinian guy said one thing.
An Israeli guy said another.

They shouted. They clenched their fists. They shouted some more.

The police came and walked back and forth between the two shouting from the rooftops and into the wind.

Who was telling the truth, who was lying?

Turns out neither.

I had seen what had happen – and more importantly, I had FILMED what had happened – so I went over to the police and said “this is what happened.”

They saw it and saw too that the truth was all a matter of perspective.

The Palestinian man saw one thing.
The Israeli man saw another.

They both were wrong – which meant they both could be right.

Everyone went their separate ways – the Israeli headed south toward the Kotel, the Palestinian headed north toward Damascus Gate, and I went down the rickety steps, back to the Shuk.

“I saw what you did,” a shopkeeper told me. “Sometimes people get so angry. It’s good they could see what really happened.”

“The police you mean?”

“No. The men who were fighting. They needed to see.”

He invited me to tea and we drank.

Afterwards he showed me the jewelry he makes – Roman glass pieces fashioned into earrings and necklaces — leftovers from an ancient and mighty civilization worn away, now worn against living skin.

I had to have one.

So I picked this simple necklace — edged in silver, mermaid blue, and I’ve worn it since.

For clarity.

And I wonder:

Where did this piece come from? Maybe a cup or a vase? Maybe a vial of perfume?

Whose hands held it and who gazed through it?


What will be left of us  in 2000 years?

What leavings of ours will a woman in 2000 years wear chained around her neck?

How will we be remembered? Our little lives, the stories we tell, the struggles we endure and the so too, the times we celebrate… We leave footprints in the sand that blow away, but our digital footprint will stay even after chrome has melted and glass has turned to dust.

Maybe that’s why we write and take pictures and videos and share stories – our versions of the truth preserved forever for others to see how wrong we are.

And yet how right.

And I’ll tell you the truth: I envy the archaeologists who cull through all our leavings, through the dross and the jewels — because I would really love to know what they decide this all means anyway.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel, She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems. She now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors and talks to strangers, and writes stories about people. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She also loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.