Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Love from Jerusalem to Beirut with a stop in Cairo for coffee

The taxi driver is tired but happy.

“The whole GPS thing, mami,” he tells me “they scrambled the wires to hide us from Iran. It’s making GETT taxi pickups a balagan – total chaos.”

“Sorry – not easy… but I hope the scrambling works,” I say. “I’d rather Iran stay the hell seay from us,”

“Me too, but like an hour ago, suddenly I was in Cairo – crazy. Never been, but my dad fought in the Sinai in 67. You ever go?”

“No – one day, I hope.”

“Yeah, me too… I don’t hate Arabs. I just hate Hamas. And Egypt seems interesting – good felafel, and the pyramids are wow.”


“But where I really want to go is Lebanon,” he says.

“Oh? Why?” I ask.

He smiles. “Wanna hear something funny?” he asks.


“So the scrambling thing happened several weeks ago, too… and well, the networks put us in Beirut… and, uh, I was on tinder swiping, you know, and suddenly I saw this girl – wow, an amazing girl. Long black hair, green eyes — cute nose ring, a butterfly tattoo… gorgeous smile, like really something. And she’s only like 2 km from me!

I don’t look at her name, sorry – yeah I know it sounds bad. I swipe right, and we match.

So THEN I look at her name. Nour. Ok, an Arab name, but so what. That smile, those eyes.

I write in English, she writes back and asks if I speak Arabic, I say no – so she writes in English and we are chatting… she’s a teacher, likes swimming… good vibes….

‘Ok let’s meet for a coffee,’ I say. I’m a tachlis guy like that — like, let’s meet since there’s good energy. She suggests some place I’ve never heard of. I tell her I don’t know it – I ask if it’s in East Jerusalem. She’s like , ‘no way, it’s in Beirut!’”

“Oh wow,” I say.

“Right?? Totally crazy. The GPS is messing with Tinder.”

“So what happened?”

“Well, you won’t believe this but we’re still talking!


“Yeah, why not? She’s funny and cool, and that smile and those green eyes…. I know I may not meet her – at least not here or in Beirut, but we are talking about maybe meeting somewhere … Greece, maybe… or Italy… she likes opera, so that could be nice…”

He sighs.

“And she knows you’re Israeli?” I ask.

“Yeah, of course. But she doesn’t care. And I don’t care that she’s Lebanese. Sure she hates Bibi, but, that’s ok, so do I. We both hate Nasrallah, too.”

I laugh.

“But really,” he continues. “I like her… and it’s nice to get to know her — first time i ever talked to a Lebanese person and first time she ever talked to an Israeli. Ok, we know it probably won’t ever be serious, but it’s still nice.”

“She doesn’t think you’re a spy or something?”

“Pshhhh… yeah we joke about that, too. “

“Hey if it all works out, you can tell your kids the ayatollah was your shadhan — your matchmaker,” I say.

He laughs. “Funny. And it’s kinda nice that we both have a vested interest in a genuine peace between our countries, now, too. Maybe this is part of the solution.”

“It won’t solve everything,” I say, “But once, you could travel all the way from Beirut to Cairo through Jerusalem. Train, on foot… just a little imagination and a water skein. Maybe one day we will be able to, again.”

“Ya reit,” he says in Arabic. “Halevai,” he says again, this time in Hebrew. “If only.”

He’s quiet for a moment.

“Like old times — only better, much better. Maybe we can take the train and go get coffee in Cairo, too. Why not?”

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.