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Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem
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Signs of spring, though it’s still October 7th

I walk in the blue and gold sunshine of Jerusalem, with its almond blossoms, posters of hostages, and mourning tents where grief spills out

When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy.
Talmud, Taanit 29a

And a new moon rose today —

Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there — and with it, the Hebrew month of Adar and you’re damn right I’m here for it, leaning into it, hungry for it.

“When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy.”

After all, this was the Hebrew month when Haman would have had us completely annihilated, but we triumphed and continued to not only survive but thrive just as we always have. And always will.

It’s also the month when the weather begins to shift from relentlessly miserable suckage to relatively pleasant — there will still be rain, but the blue-skied days are soft and gilded, and they come as less of a total shock than they did in the throes of Tevet and Shevat when the wind and rain batter you relentlessly. And you appreciate the shift into Adar, like the first days of returned health after a rough illness… you’re grateful for that little bit of sun, a welcome reprieve.

I guess that’s a form of joy, too.

And today I went looking for it — Specifically for signs or spring.

I missed most of the almond blossoms that appeared like delicate brides during Shevat because it was so damn cold and stormy and I didn’t get out to look for them. And, tbh — I was also stuck on October 7 in Tishrei, when there are no almond blossoms anyway so what’s the point of looking for something that doesn’t exist.

But now that the sun is out, I’m walking again — my body still rusty and stiff from a long period of confinement, but I’m making myself go out into the blue and gold again here in Jerusalem.

It’s a bubble here in the Holy City in many ways — the cafes and stores are open, it’s almost business as usual… hardly any sirens… the ground doesn’t shake with bombs… but look closer and you’ll see there are posters of the hostages everywhere and “Together we will win” signs and banners on practically every corner.

Look closer and you’ll also see the signs of total exhaustion on everyone’s face — a grueling, bone shattering exhaustion… deep-socketed exhaustion.

We are still waiting up all night for our stolen brothers and sisters and partners and friends and teachers and parents and coworkers and children to return home from captivity… We are waiting for our soldier sons and daughters and partners and friends to text us back on WhatsApp with a sign of life after a week of radio silence…. We are waiting for more bad news, even though we say, “May we only have good news,” but we can’t lean into optimism now when we are sitting shiva with our best friend whose son — the same little boy we watched grow up — was killed, or when we are grieving our grandmother who was murdered in her pajamas on FB live stream, or we are wrestling with survivor’s guilt because we somehow lived while we watched our best friend get her throat cut while being gang-raped right in front of us while we pretended to play dead, or we are wondering if we will ever feel safe enough to go back home when, really, what home? It’s just a blackened shell that still smells like burned flesh.

We are still waiting for our leaders to make us feel safe again.

But still, I had my headphones on and I had on music — songs I listened to in the ‘90s before the vast majority of kids murdered at the Nova party and soldiers serving in Gaza were even born, and I pretended — for a moment — that it was a different time…. A safer time, a spring-time… a time when the potential for joy was as real as the big blue sky just above me.

And then in the middle of this moment — listening to Jane’s Addiction, in another pocket of the multiverse entirely where I’m 14 again and my mom is still alive and the world feels relatively okay, and the greatest tragedy I had faced is when my cat ran away — I walked by a shiva tent where the family of a fallen soldier is in deep mourning.

So much grief in one dense little space, so much pain and anguish — a gravity well — and I couldn’t breathe as I walked past.

A young man — a father — a universe destroyed.

There are no words of comfort that can ever make this okay by any stretch, and still we turn toward one another to try to make things a little less unbearable…. We reach across the veil and enter the tent and we sit in the darkness together with the family who is facing the worst nightmare imaginable.

How do you get up again after the period of mourning is over?

You get up because you have to —
Eventually, right?

But do you ever get up completely, fully, wholly… or do you leave part of yourself behind in the gravity well, a screaming, wailing, railing against the skies part of you stays caught in that resin, always, in the sink hole, in that space.

And all over Israel there are these tents — these gravity wells of so much anguish… too many to count now, but each one as exquisitely specific and sacred as the person whose life was extinguished.

We keep walking because we have to. And I kept walking because I had to. Adar right around the corner because it may still be October 7, but it’s also spring and the sky is still blue and the last of the almond blossoms are drifting on the wind, and the tears spring from my eyes, falling in silver trails of salt and silt over my cheeks, down my neck and to the ground like fresh rain.

Those who sow with tears, will reap with joy”
– Psalm 126 5-6

And the tears keep falling. All over Israel.

And the new moon rose today.

Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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.
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