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Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Inside the heart of stone

Toddlers and fiddlers, vendors and priests living, playing and praying in the ancient alleyways of Jerusalem

Jerusalem, I’m searching again inside your walls, searching for the heart that matters.

Through the quarters that divide you, I follow your arteries, lined in stone. These stones, softened by the footsteps of the faithful, who for so many years have walked these same stones as I do now, searching for something between the shadow and light filtering through you. Searching as I am.

This light, the kind that softens cracks and crags, that smooths the wrinkles in our skin, iridescent, incandescent… I take a picture (it’ll last longer.) Because before us, all of us on all sides, there widens this abyss in darkness.

Jerusalem, how hard it is to look you in the eye during days like these, during days like these when I can hear the echo of a rocket boom from still too close. During days like these when a tiny moth landing on the tip of someone’s nose can start a riot. During days like these when rough hands reach for loose stones, clenched in trembling fists.

These stones abide while we filter through, ephemeral, our moods shifting in faith, in fear.

And yet through it all, as we pass, I know this to be certain: These stones, stoic and smooth, stand in testament to all we have built, our three faiths combined. And yet, these stones are not holy, rather the holiness is in those who walk them.

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A little boy plays on church steps in the Christian Quarter Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Nuns helping one another up slippery stones near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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A mother and child in the Muslim Quarter looking for a Hello Kitty t-shirt Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

 

On one leg, he asks for a few spare coins. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
On one leg, he asks for a few spare coins.
Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

 

Pilgrims carry a cross up Via Dolorosa Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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An ultra-orthodox Jewish man on his way back from praying at the Western Wall Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Get this fiddler a roof! Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
“May we meet only on joyous occasions!” A family celebrates in the Jewish Quarter near the Western Wall Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A brother and sister exchange words. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A moments pause next to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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A pilgrim waits near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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A one-legged man begs for a few spare coins near Jaffa Gate Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Heads up! A soccer match near Lion’s Gate. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Entering Jaffa Gate Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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People of Jerusalem walking through the Muslim Quarter Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Praying at the Western Wall Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Greek orthodox women closing up shop in the Christian Quarter Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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A little boy discovers angels indeed exist. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Friends of different faiths Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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A family in the Old City Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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The coffee hour. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Shopping on Via Dolorosa Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Faith and light. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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World travelers Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Catch! Photo by Sarah Tuttle-singer
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May there always be music Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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A priest calls the faithful to prayer at an Armenian Church Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Carrying bread. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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Faith and light Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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At the Western Wall Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
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The Angel of Jerusalem Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

You can see more photos from Jerusalem here.

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.