Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

Stay wild, children of the moon. Stay wild

You probably don’t know this about me, but back in high school just before spring, I would wait until the house was silent, and everyone asleep, and the night cool and still against my skin, and then I would dance around this little old orange tree on the south end of our backyard.

I would start when the moon was just a wink like Shamai said, – and then I’d keep on dancing for the entire month as it swelled a little bit each night, until it was overflowing as Hillel promised, and then I kept on dancing until it vanished into nothingness, except the stars.

I danced barefoot, – my hair long and white in the moonlight streaming down my back. No necklaces. No earrings.

I felt damp earth on my feet, little grass blades wet with the cooling night poked my feet, there were rocks, sometimes, and I imagined the old bones of my dead kitten turning with me just underneath the tree, the tree where I buried an old penny and a love note, the core of an apple once, and a drinking glass.

Yeah, I was that girl, barefoot and by myself – but not alone – curving with the moon,full and ripe like peaches, and my belly, too, soft, but empty, my womb like a pomegranate.

I did it because I love the earth. I did it because I wanted to feel the pull of the moon against my body, and I did, and I wanted to feel my head in the stars, and my feet on the ground, and I did that, too.

It’s in my blood.  It’s in each cell.  It goes back, way back to my roots as a proud Jewess — one of many high priestesses of the desert, daughters of the sea, queens of forests and the hills, with tambourines and timbrels, we stood there, proud and tall and free, we beat are drums and sang from the backs of our throats.

And through each village, each hamullah, each shtetl, and each city, we carry that with us, in our skin and in our blood, and we represent year after year, on Tu B’Shvat – the Holiday of Trees – with our prayers and with our songs. We eat our almonds and dried fruit, and drink white wine in the beginning, and add a little red each time, like I did to the earth when I would dance, until from the colors of winter into the blush of summer that wine yields a sweet harvest, which I would, too.

My harvest is in bed sleeping curled up in their beds, and one day I’ll tell them how their mother danced barefoot in the moonlight before the laundry and dishes and work and paying bills, before all the things that make me put on shoes and hit the pavement, and how sometimes, I forget all these things, and remember only who I am beneath them all, and do it, still.

For we are all children of the moon, and the earth and the trees and the sea, and this is our birthright.

So tu bishvat sameach, children of the moon.

Stay wild.

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.