Israel’s annual observance of Jerusalem Day was a little different this year: Under COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, instead of the traditional massive parade and Dance of the Flags, marching through Jerusalem’s Old City, only a 700-person human chain — two-meters apart, of course — was allowed to gather around the Old City’s eight gates.
So The Times of Israel Podcast decided to mark Jerusalem Day from afar with an in-depth conversation with ToI New Media editor Sarah Tuttle-Singer. After Tuttle-Singer lived in all four quarters of the ancient city over two years, she wrote the experiential memoir, “Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered.”
Jerusalem Day is celebrated on the 28th of the Hebrew month of Iyar and marks the reunification of Israel’s capital city on June 7, 1967. It was named a national holiday in 1998.
Tuttle-Singer servers as a behind-the-scenes guide to the alleyways and rooftops of the Old City in a lively conversation with podcast host Amanda Borschel-Dan. She discusses living in what was a terrorism hotspot during the 2015 Lone Wolf stabbing attacks that hit the Old City especially hard.
Most people in the Old City just want to make enough money to feed their families, said Tuttle-Singer, who worries how the shop vendors are faring under coronavirus restrictions.
“At the end of the day, if we have enough to eat, if we feel safe enough with our own economic security, then I think things just fare better and we’re able to listen to each other better under periods of tension,” said Tuttle-Singer.
But we also hear about the best place in the world to purchase take-out humus — and upon which rooftop to eat it.
Tuttle-Singer takes us to St. Helena’s Cistern, and we hear sound samples of two of her visits there, accompanied by very different singers. Listen to elderly Russian Christians chant, as well as the Quranic verses lyrically sung by a pair of 20-something Muslim men.
But more than the places found in the Old City, Tuttle-Singer dives into the vibrant, multi-colored tapestry of its inhabitants and how she got to know them.
“You look someone in the eye and you tell the truth about who you are and they’re more than likely to do the same and tell the truth about who they are. And that first conversation may not lead to some sort of breakthrough or revelation or change the world by any stretch of the imagination, but if that first conversation can lead to a second conversation and a third and a fourth and a fifth, then what you have is a friendship. And that friendship then begins to be part of the process of necessary change,” Tuttle-Singer.
The conversation was part of The Times of Israel’s exclusive Zoom webinars offered to The Times of Israel Community.
Check out this other recent Times of Israel Podcast:
Mazel tov, after 508 days of labor, an Israeli government is born!
After 508 days of labor pains, Israel’s Knesset voted 73-46 in favor of a new government. To make sense of the new 35-minister government, we’re speaking with our Senior Analyst Haviv Rettig Gur. He has been following all the nail-biting twists and turns in this monumental period of three elections, and the rise and break up of major parties, and is ready to share his insights.