Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

On leaving Jerusalem

When the message came saying 'It's official. They were Jewish.'

We were in the Old City when the news broke – the terrible news that we so didn’t want to believe could be true, that we STILL don’t want to believe IS true.

We were sipping apfelpunsch at the Austrian Hospice, where the birds and Mozart are always in harmony, where the air smells like apple strudel and frankincense, where the light flitters over stones.

My phone beeped, and the light shifted.

“It’s official. They were Jewish.”

I didn’t have to ask who “they” were, although I know that in the coming hours, days and into the years, we will know, although we will never understand.

And when you’re in the Old City where peace is tethered so closely toward feeling, when you’re in the Old City and emotions are raw, when you’re in the Old City and you can feel the mood move with the light, you go.

And when you hear a gunshot echo from somewhere near enough to hear, you go fast.

We left near the Western Wall after my father felt the ancient stones beneath his hands, and we took a taxi.

We were quiet and tense during the taxi ride. I don’t know what the driver knew, but he had the news on in Arabic during our ride and his hands gripped the steering wheel as we barreled down Highway One, right on 431, left on 40, and finally to the kibbutz.

Ramadan Kareem,” I said in Arabic when I paid him.

Todah rabah,” he answered in Hebrew.

As the light deepened into amber and slanted in through the trees from the far reaches of the horizon, we saw him face East, unfurl a small rug, and get down on his knees and pray.

I turned around, and wept while the light shone through my  tears. And I faced Jerusalem.

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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