We saw each other once at Sinai, and it’s wonderful to see you again

The Ten Commandments, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company - public domain (additional people in the foreground, courtesy of the author)

Outside the Old City of Jerusalem on Shavuot, there was a big tent.

The tent was full of tables laden with an assortment of dairy pastries and milk and coffee and even small plastic cups filled with whisky.

Hundreds of people passed by the tent and took a snack or poured themselves a drink and said a lchaim – to life! – while Haredi men in streimels eating bright red popsicles wished them a Chag Samaech — a joyous Shavuot.

I stood to the side for a moment with a friend  – a little awkward, and unsure if I belonged there  — my arms bare except for the tattoos which cover them — I said something to my friend like “I guess 9:15 am is as good a time for whisky as any,” when a man in a black yarmulke and a white shirt  handed me his little cup of golden liquid and said, “here, it’s yours.”

Lchaim and Chag Samaech,” I said.

The air shimmered in the morning sun.

The tent was full to brimming, and when I looked more closely, I saw all kinds of people — Jewish and not Jewish — a group of men smoked cigarettes, a family chatted. Russian pilgrims took selfies. The Arab bread seller by Jaffa gate poured himself a cup of coffee.

Today we celebrate the day when we received the Torah from Hashem as we gathered by Mt Sinai — this is when we first met each other all those lifetimes ago: We saw each other at Sinai.

And while things are rough between us now – while there is very real anger and frustration and even fear between us – once we were all together – a mixed multitude of people  – together –  for that moment in the shadow of the mountain.

And outside the Old City,  under that big tent that fit us all for a few moments on Shavuot, it felt like a reunion.

Lchaim, everyone and Chag Samaech.

It is so wonderful to see you again.


About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer, 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. She now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors and talks to strangers, and writes stories about people. 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 also 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.
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