Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Even in darkness, new babies are born every day

An hour after the Yom Hashoah siren, I went to get my hair done (spoiler alert: I’m not really blonde)

There was a woman in the chair next to me – Older than the State of Israel, and then some – and when she smiled, her eyes twinkled.

She has a new grandson. He is just a few weeks old.

“When my daughter-in-law went to have the baby, my son was in Gaza — he was in charge of a tank somewhere,” the woman said.

While the young mother labored, the father was still in the belly of a tank. They weren’t allowed to turn on their phones, and he had no idea that his wife was bringing their baby earthside while he and the men under his command were hunkered down.

“My son didn’t even know if she was having a boy or a girl. They wanted it to be a surprise,” the woman told me. “But after he was born, we reached my son’s commander, and he went personally to deliver the news to my son. ‘You have a boy,’ he said. ‘Mazal tov!” And there in the tank they celebrated and pretended to drink whisky made of air from imaginary glassses, and they said ‘L’chaim!’ ”

“Did your son get to go home to see his newborn son?”

“The commander told him take his things and leave!” the woman said. “But my son said, ‘I am a father now – and I am also responsible for these men here in the tank with me. I will not leave until someone can take my place to lead them.’ The commander was davka on his way home to see his wife and family – but he gave my son a hug and said, I’ll stay in your place. You go be with your family. Do you see what a sacrifice that was? His commander probably hadn’t been home in weeks – sleeping in a tank, no showers, no hot food, the angel of death circling every day and every night… And thesw soldiers are our light – they are our guardian angels keeping the Angel of Death away – The world says such terrible things about us, but my son and his commanding officer and the other men and women there are the salt of the earth here. Bibi, Ben Gvir… doesn’t matter how bad things get with our government. The men and women who will be the future of our country are good people. More than good people. Angels.”

By now, I’m crying – I do that a lot three days. I don’t know if we are angels – but who am I to argue with the woman in the chair beside me. The memory of the Yom Hashoah siren is still in my head — forcing me to remember what happens if we don’t have a country — and in a few short days, there will be another siren on Memorial Day, and we will stand and remember the price we have to pay to have one.

We are living one, long, terrible day since the morning of October 7, we live it over and over and over with a sun rising and setting cruelly indifferent to the gravity well that we are sucked into as we reel in the terror and the trauma of these times that seem eternal. Yes, the world feels like a terrible place now – a maw of darkness… but there is also love, and kindness… and new babies being born all the time.

And this one – named Shalom — Peace — may he and the others in this generation know only light.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the 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, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. 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 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.