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‘Sara Netanyahu’s’ wild night at the Waldorf

Imagine Bohemian Rhapsody in your head, and sit back for some flights of fancy blended into a long Jerusalem night

Some of this is real life.

And some just fantasy.

But I’ll tell you this: there was a lot on my mind, and I had been drinking with a group of friends at the Waldorf to avoid going home

Like what?

Oh, just Laphroaig.

OHH! You mean, what’s on MY MIND?

Well, the Situation as we Israelis like to call it that’s been going on since forever. That’s on my mind.

And then matters of the heart, too — my family too far away, and a reshuffling of life in general. The kids out of school, and work on a slow and steady drip until the Middle East erupts (which it does on any given day that ends in Y) and I’m glued to the news.

So, tonight I was drinking.

And now, long after the Light Rail lies quiet and still, and long after the last bus lurches out of the Central Bus Station, I’m stuck in Jerusalem, and half a shade past drunk, so after everyone leaves, I decide to sit in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria.

The place smells like clean linen, champagne and a lot of money.

I think about asking for a bucket, not because I need to puke or anything but because I really want to know if they’ll bring me one in pewter or gold or Swarovski crystal.

And then a security team shows up because I am nodding and weaving in the lobby of the Waldorf-freaking-Astoria.

Chaim, Wassim, Martin, and Enrico: “Do you need an ambulance?”


“A doctor?”


“A rabbi?”

“Oh, HELL no.”

“A priest???”

I sigh.

“Are you alright?”

“I am fine. I have a headache. That is all.”

I enunciate very. Very. Clear.Ly.

“A headache?”

“Yes. A head. Ache.”

“Really? Just a headache? You look a little….”


I give the guys my best secret agent stare with an invisible wink — fast as a butterfly’s wing. Which isn’t easy when you’re drunk and you’re actually moving in slooooowwwww moooootionnnnnnn, so I probably had my right eye shut for, like, an hour.

“What’s your name?”


“Sara what?”

“Sara Netanyahu.”

The fabulous four look at one another, sigh, and leave me alone.

They know better than to mess with Sara Netanyahu especially when she isn’t really Sara Netanyahu.

And now I can’t find my Goddamn phone, not that I want to live-tweet this or anything, but still, I’m sober enough to know I need it. I check the bathroom. Nada. I check the terrace, Nope. I head to security and we look for it in Hebrew, Arabic, English, and i think Yiddish. Which is weird because I don’t think I speak Yiddish.

Eyn loshn iz keynmol nisht genug.

And now my leg is vibrating. Apparently, I had tucked my phone in my garter belt next to my flask. That’s another story for another time.

I check the news.

Still a slow and steady drip.

Turkey, Israel, France, Trump.

I hit refresh and check again.

On Politico, Trump running his mouth like a fool with no mama.

On Times of Israel, the family of a murdered teenage girl deep in mourning.

And on CNN, guess what. Jennifer Anniston isn’t pregnant.

By now, I want bacon and eggs, because it reminds of of late nights at Denny’s when I would smoke and drink and end up in Oakland… So I sway up to the front desk, but Muhammad who has the night shift wags his finger at me and says, “This hotel is kosher.”

Not only is the hotel kosher, but it’s as silent as a Jewish mother who hasn’t decided how she’s going to punish you. And that’s freaking me out because usually the lobby of the Waldorf is humming with the hormones of the shidduch dates over by the bar — adorable haredi could-be couples perched with smiles and perky questions, or businessmen doing business, or diplomats, or King Joffrey Joffer, Ruler of Zamunda chatting with his son, Crown Prince Akim.

But not at 2 a.m. only thing open at 2 a.m. is is the security desk at the Waldorf.

And I hope, the bathroom, too, because the water fountain in the main lobby sounds like silver coins falling through my fingers, and it makes me need to pee.

It’s open.

Baruch Hashem.

And let me tell you something, you meet strange and wondrous people in hotel bathrooms when no one is supposed to be there.

She could have been a man or a woman, but I’m thinking she wants me to think she’s a woman — silver hair streaming down her back, and green eye shadow and thick red lipstick and a little mole drawn on in the same place as Cindy Crawford’s and she faces the mirror and sings.:

“I see a little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?”

I give her a thumbs up, pee, and feel bad for interrupting her so I can wash my hands.

I leave the bathroom and I wonder if I dreamed it. I look back in. It’s empty.

Easy come, easy go.

I close my eyes, and dream of bacon and eggs.

At 4 a.m., Enrico wakes me up — he is embarrassed. Especially because I murmured “Yes, darling.”

“Um. I’m sorry, Sara Netanyahu. I’ve been asked to have you leave before we start opening things here. Do you need me to call you a taxi?”

“No, I’m cool. My dear friend Hanin Zoabi will pick me up over by Herzl.”

I wave goodbye to Muhammad at the front desk.

“I’m going for bacon and eggs.”

Hashem Yishmor,” he says in Hebrew. “God help you, Sara Netanyahu.”

The night is warm and sullen, and the only sound is a night bird, the hum of a street lamp, and the sound of my flip-flops flip-flopping up toward the park.

There’s this 24-hour diner that I know about on Yoel Solomon — on the street where the municipality hung pretty umbrellas, where they sell scarves and yarmulkes and hashish if you know who to ask.

I get there, and I order bacon and eggs. And because I’m actually 9-years-old sometimes, hot chocolate.

“Extra whipped cream.”

Hashem Yishmor. God help me.

The food comes, and it’s wonderful.

The hot chocolate comes, and IT’S wonderful.

And then there’s this guy sitting there who’s twitching — in the corner, to my left. This is not wonderful.

Because now he gets up and starts knocking down stools and yelling that Pokemon was JUST HERE, but now he ISN’T and WHERE HAVE YOU SONS OF BITCHES HIDDEN HIM.

He and the waiter get into it — like in a big way, the tweaker is yelling and waving his iPhone around, and then he throws a glass of water on the waiter.

The waiter is like, “Oh HELL naw,” only in Hebrew, and he calls the cops.

I grab the butter knife next to me.

And then I decide to call the police, too — because it’s been 15 fucking minutes of very tense chair throwing and shouting and shoving and looking for Pokemon and ain’t nobody got time for that.

I dial 100. I am put on hold.

Seriously? THIS IS JERUSALEM. It should be illegal to put people on hold when they call the police, because here in the city of scorpions and tsaddikim, nobody got time for that.

“Police,” a woman finally says after I (could theoretically have been) beaten to a pulp three times, shot in the foot, and then PEED ON.

I start to explain WTF is going on when homie lunges at me with his iPhone.


Oh. No. You. Didn’t.

Okay. so you don’t know this about me but when I get into defensive mode, I channel this very deep, very ferocious spirit animal. Part whale. Part raptor. part Libertarian.

So homie is lunging at me, and I’ve got my butter knife out and I lunge at HIM and shout “GET. THE. FUCK. AWAY.”

In English.

But “Get the Fuck Away” apparently is universally understood, because he backs off.

And then I say to the police in Hebrew: “Could you please come already?”

The waiter laughs at me with my butter knife, although let it be known that the guy is back in the corner, and within five minutes, four cops come and escort the guy out — “Yeah, yeah, we’ll help you find Pokemon. Just come with us.”

But seriously, they were great, the cops. They were professional. They were kind. But maybe that’s because homie was tweaking and threatening to Facebook LIVE the whole thing.

It’s quiet in the restaurant and I finish my hot chocolate.

And I am tired. I am really tired. And everything’s softened around the edges — the Situation. The news. The big losses in my family and in my life that I am not ready to face.

And the sun is rising, slanting through the window and across my wrist where there’s a scar from a knife from long ago, and there are church bells pealing, and birds singing and the muezzin is calling, and most importantly of all, the buses are RUNNING, and I want to go home.

So, I pay the bill. And leave a tip. And I head out into the sunrise, singing Bohemian rhapsody, my hair streaming down my back.

Just as one should in Jerusalem when nothing really matters.

** Some of this really happened. Some of it didn’t. If you want to know which is which, ask me. I might tell you.

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, Times of Israel's New Media editor, lives in Israel with her two kids in a village next to rolling fields. Sarah likes taking pictures, climbing roofs, and talking to strangers. She is the author of the book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. Sarah is a work in progress.
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