Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Parallel lines, same moon, separate lives.

Wikimedia commons / Sardaka —

Last night, as Shabbat ended here in Jerusalem, and the city lurched awake after the Day of Rest, a new moon rose in the desert sky.

Just a sliver of a wink over the sand, so slender you had to squint really hard to see it.

But with this tiny moon, so began the new Hebrew month — Tammuz — and we, the children of Isaac celebrated and greeted each other “Hodesh tov! Shavua tov!” A good month! A good week!

We mark each beginning by moon rise or by starlight — we look for the light amidst the darkness, and it is good.

But is it good?

The busses rumbled down the street.
Car horns beeped.
Teenagers streamed out from their homes to meet and flirt and maybe get an ice cream, soldiers who were granted a rare Shabbat reprieve to be with their families prepared to go back into the fray – north and south, tensions simmer across the Land, rockets explode against dry earth, fires erupt along the border with Lebanon.

There was a soft wind though, and if you listened last night, you could hear the chants of the protestors from all across the country demanding a hostage deal and an end to the war.

It’s been nine months. Nine months of October 7s. Nine months since the worst pogrom in Jewish history since the Holocaust. Nine months of grief, gaslighting, holding our breath, nine months since whole families were annihilated in their safe rooms, nine months since our sisters and daughters were brutalized by monsters, nine months since we Jews all around the world felt truly safe, nine months since our people were Kidnapped and stolen away from us.

We know what can happen to a woman in 9 months.

Baby Kfir has lived more of his life in the rancid belly of Gaza than in the loving arms of his home and community.

But life. Life continues. A new week, a new month and the traffic crawls down Hillel Street and King David Street, and I wonder what our beloved Rav and our ancient King would say of all this now.

Across the road from my apartment – just behind the bus stop where several have gathered to take one or another bus lines into town for ice cream or a drink or to demonstrate for a hostage deal, the children of Ishmael – our cousins – are also celebrating.

Turns out, this moon rise marks THEIR new year – where their calendar begins all over again.

Like us, they measure time by the moon, just as our Grandfather Abraham did from his tent in the wilderness.

It’s funny – and tragic. We are so close, and so distant — two parallel lines that managed to once grow from the same seed somehow, two separate people, both gazing at the same moon, and marking our time by the fluctuations in her shape and light.

Parallel lines, same moon, separate lives.

The filling of light, the spilling of light, and each day passes, and with it, our time here together, and one day, we will return to earth and starlight, as those who came before and those who will come after.

But right now, all I see is darkness. I try to find light though – and when I can’t find it, I try to make it.

I sent a message in our neighborhood WhatsApp group: “Hi ladies – tonight begins new year for our cousins (the Muslim ones not the Christian ones) It’s only one day of Chag – but taxi drivers and bus drivers may be working less… and it’s also lovely to wish folks a happy new year too.”

The sun rose. The moon was swept from the sky.

The usual Muslim Arab staff were working at Aroma. “Isn’t it a holiday? Why are you working?” I asked.

“It’s not a holiday for Israel,” they replied. “Just for us.”

Parallel lines, same moon, separate lives.

I thought about how outside of Israel, we Jews are expected to work on our holy days. It’s just business as usual.

They looked tired.

Behind them, the faces of the hostages flashed across a screen. I’m tired too.

“Thanks for knowing it’s our holiday,” one of the guys smiled, and handed me a piece or chocolate,

I wished them all Eid Said and left.

Parallel lines, same moon, separate lives.

Later, at the doctor, a man old enough to be my grampa walked around the wqiting room wishing everyone blessings for health and wealth  and joy and success. Hodesh Tov! Shavua Tov!

“Amen,” I said. “And it’s also a new year for Muslims!”

He sighed – a deep, bone rattling sigh. He rubbed his eyes.
“I hope it’s their last,” he said. “May they all just rot in hell.”

“Hey, we dont speak like that,” a man with a yarmulke said. “God help you for even thinking that.”

The old man left.

The rest of us were quiet.

Parallel lines, same moon, separate lives.

“Thanks for saying something,” I said. He shrugged.

And the sadness settled in me. I thought about the faces of all the stolen ones that we see on posters and in flashes across the sceeen . Technically, they’re strangers, and yet I would recognize every single one of them anywhere – they are my family. I love them all.

And I wonder:

Can they see the new moon each time it rises ?

Can they see the stars?

Can WE see beyond our anger? Can WE see beyond our fear and heartbreak?

Some days I can’t.

Some days, I try to make a bridge or at least a window.

I tried today. And it didn’t work.

My phone pinged – a message from one of the women on my neighborhood WhatsApp group:

“Just wanted to say because of this message I was able to wish my Arab coworkers at the Inbal a happy new year. Sadly I wouldn’t  have known otherwise…So thanks!”

Parallel lines, same moon, an open window… a bridge of light.

I felt the tears falls.

I’m not optimistic anymore, but I have just enough  hope left in me to wish you all this:

Hodesh tov

Eid Said.

May this moon be the last moon we see  in fear and anger – May this moon be the last moon of this terrible  time  between  us – May this moon be the last moon where innocent people are held hostage in dungeons and children in any community live in fear and mortal danger.

And  when the new moon rises – as it always does — may we celebrate together on a sturdy bridge of 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.