Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

The bomb scare in Jerusalem

Israelis hate waiting. Yaala, yaala, we’re ready to move on since yesterday. Remember the wildebeest scene in the Lion King? That’s basically how we wait in line in Israel.

Except when it’s serious. Like when we’re all crammed in together at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, all of us, tired and sweaty on this sullen August night: Suddenly, we learn the gentle art of patience, of pause: From the ultra-orthodox family with the 10 kids, to the two teenage girls with their glitter lipgloss, and matching belly button rings, to the man in the kifeyeh and the woman in hijab, to the old Russian couple holding hands, to the children — oh, so many children in this young country.

We wait. We watch the faces of the soldiers, knowing that this is probably nothing, but knowing it might not be, too.

We’ve lived through too many of these – sure, mostly it’s nothing, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, there’s no warning, no “suspicious package” left by the escalator, sometimes, a man walks into a restaurant in a heavy coat in the middle of July and detonates. Or sometimes, a woman lures a teenage boy away at night only to watch him get shot at close range more than 15 times. Or sometimes, a tractor comes barreling down on you.

Statistics say that everyone in Israel knows at least one person killed in a terrorist attack.

I wonder how many people around me are thinking of the people they knew, the people gone that appear suddenly in moments like these, when it could be us, too. I’m thinking of Rafi, that smile that cuts through me when I remember him, when I think that I’m older than he will ever be, even though I’ll always think of him as that much older brother.

Israeli’s hate waiting. We grumble, we pace, we are a perpetual-motion people — probably from all those centuries when we had to be moving moving always moving… but we waited tonight at the Central Bus Station knowing we may be waiting for lives, until the soldiers said “yaala, yaala you can move again.”

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.