Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

This is why I’m giving it away for free…

DISCLAIMER: No one is paying me to write this post.

Twenty months ago, I left everything I knew behind in Los Angeles, took a giant leap of faith, and fell hard on my ass in Israel. 

Yeah, I know, I know, enough with the Whiny Anglo shit already.  Yeah, I’m tired of it too…etc. But since I need to provide context, you are cordially invited to my pity party:

Not since Alice tumbled head first down the rabbit hole has a blonde found herself so topsy turvy and flummoxed as I was during those first few months of our Klitah.  

We were a Nefesh B’Nefesh worst nightmare:

The kids were sick all the freaking time. I’d spend sleepless night after sleepless night playing the Jewish Mother version of Whac a mole while both babes bounced between fretful wakefulness and restless sleep, and the dawn would find me curled on the sofa with the infant in one arm, and the toddler in the other, all of us bleary-eyed and covered in a thin film of pale pink vomit with that special Moxipen smell of strawberry bubblegum.  (Ear infection 2:  New Immigrant Children 0)   

My Bat Mitzvah Hebrew was good enough to get me to the shiruteem and back, but that was it.  And during those first few months, I’d trip over my tongue and break my teeth trying to make friends on the kibbutz.   It was like being the new girl in high school with braces and a rolley backpack, only worse because I couldn’t even read the sign taped to my back.   (Isolation 1: Sarah 0)  

And — inevitably — my marriage imploded.    Take the normal stresses and strains a marriage sustains when parenting an infant and a toddler, put them on amphetamines, crank up the Speed metal, and there you have it.   (Heartbreak 1:   Sarah and her Ex 0.)

At a certain point, I had to make a decision.  I could wallow in my own misery or get off my ass and do something about it.  

And so, I learned how to take the train into Tel Aviv.  I’d sit with my laptop in a busy cafe on an even busier corner where I could feel the pulse of the city permeating my very core.  This was the Israel I had fallen head over heels in love with at sixteen — the vivacious and vibrant place that still saturates my dreams.
And then, I found a job site, and after posting my resume, I found a job in the high tech epicenter of Tel Aviv.  And two Arcaffes within waking distance, a Mikes place around the corner and a Sushi Samba two doors down, this Expat Barbie had ARRIVED. 

And then I found Times of Israel. 

It never in a million years occurred to me that when I took a second leap of faith and hit “PUBLISH” on what I thought was an innocuous little post about feeling homesick in the homeland, that I would find such an incredible community.  Because even amidst the cutting comments that called me out — that told me to suck it up or get the hell out — I found an inspiring group of friends.  I found others like me, willing to admit that they were struggling with the same shit too.  Others like me who grappled with their choices, but ultimately felt in a primal way that Israel was their home.   

And I also found others who had gotten through their personal Aliyah crises and built their own communities and found their purposes in this exquisitely complex country.   Others who said to me “it gets better.”

And it has.

Taking that second leap of faith and sharing my story with the readers of Times of Israel has enhanced my life immeasurably in ways that are viscerally humbling and poignantly inspiring.  

And I am indebted to Times of Israel.  So I will continue to happily write for free for this site, because I know that I can never ever repay David Horovitz and Elie Leshem and the rest of the team at Times of Israel for all they have given me.  

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.