Super Jewess: Writer Sarah Tuttle-Singer of Times of Israel
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is one of Israel’s most outspoken critics, as well as one of its most ardent supporters. Like the country itself, she is full of contradictions.
The mother of two, writer, and Times of Israel New Media editor is often sparking up an online conversation about the Israeli occupation, the mysteries of the Old City, and her entertaining interactions with customer service agents. She frequently updates her Facebook page with rants about how the Israeli government is handling certain situations, as well as posting about how much she loves her country.
Tuttle-Singer, a Venice Beach, Calif. native, said she wanted to live in Israel since she was 16. “Nearly 15 years and two kids later, I made aliyah. It wasn’t easy at first —the most meaningful things in life often aren’t — but besides having kids, moving to Israel was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
The writer spends her time living on a moshav half the week, and the other half in Tel Aviv or in the Old City of Jerusalem, working on her upcoming book, “Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: A Year Spent Living in the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem.”
On any typical day, Tuttle-Singer is drinking coffee during the day, and sipping on Single Malt at night. When she’s not at her quiet moshav, she said she is “climbing roofs in Jerusalem and walking around the Old City and exploring cisterns, and drinking spiced tea. And some days, I’m in Tel Aviv, writing from the beach, or Jaffa Port, watching the sunset, and taking photos of things that catch my eye and give me a sense of wonder.”
In many of her writings, Tuttle-Singer comes off childlike, but in a good way. She is in awe of the people and the world around her and is fascinated by even the smallest of interactions, like when she bought scotch from a religious Muslim woman at Heathrow Airport.
Or when she thought she was in a cab with a Jewish driver, but then was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be Arabic. She reflected, “I think people are people are people, and there are good people and there are a–holes. And if we look for good people, we’ll find them. They’re everywhere.”
Since Tuttle-Singer is critical of and sympathetic to both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, she gets her fair share of hate comments on her posts. She said that many times, she has been called misogynistic names, like “whore,” and someone told her they hope she gets raped and killed.
“That said, most of the people who disagree with me politically are respectful, and I learn from them,” she said. “And they’ll defend me online when the too-vocal minority write vicious things. I’m grateful for these friends.”
Despite the threats, Tuttle-Singer isn’t afraid to post her opinions on a variety of subjects other than Israel, like womanhood, sexuality, and being a parent. And she has received tons of supportive messages about her writing.
“During the #MeToo social media phenomenon, strangers reached out to me to share their story,” she said. “And in some very special instances, men asked me some thoughtful questions on what constitutes harassment and assault, because they want to be clear moving forward and make amends if necessary.”
In one especially poignant post about #MeToo, Tuttle-Singer detailed her personal story. She wrote about the Israeli worker from an internet company who installed her internet and then proceeded to hit on and repeatedly harass her.
She wrote, “He knows where I live. He knows I live alone with my kids. If I call the company he works for to complain, he could get fired. I don’t want him to get fired. He’s harassing me but he isn’t assaulting me. He’s got two kids at home. If he gets fired, he could come back and hurt me for getting him fired.”
Tuttle-Singer received many comments from friends and fans that offered words of support and came with up ideas for how she could protect herself. “I am lucky that I get a lot of beautiful messages, too. And those make me feel so, so good,” she said.
Along with not being afraid to “go there” when it comes to sexual harassment, Tuttle-Singer has a fun and refreshing take on parenthood, as well. As a writer for Kveller, she’s come up with article topics like, “Why I’m Saying F*ck You to My Kids’ Homework,” “What to Do When Your Daughter Says, ‘Mama, I Can’t Stand You,’” and “You Are F*ing Up Your Kids.”
Though Tuttle-Singer is single, and a mother, she said she is by no means a single mother – just a divorced one. She shares legal custody with her ex-husband, who is in Israel with his wife, and she relies on her ex’s mother for help and support.
“[My ex] is the first person I call during the special moments of grace when [our kids] are holding hands or washing the dishes or co-writing comic books… or just being silly and adorable and wonderful,” she said. “Our marriage didn’t last, but we are still in it together – and one day – God willing – we will be grandparents together.”
As for now, Tuttle-Singer is going to enjoy her kids while they are young and keep working hard at writing about Israel, whether she’s highlighting its flaws or its eternal beauty. No matter what, she said, everyone in Israel is family.
“Family sometimes disagrees and needs to criticize. Because ‘Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze Le Ze, [or] ‘All of Israel is responsible for one another,’ doesn’t just mean we have to have each other’s backs. It means we have to call each other out on our mistakes and take responsibility for them, too.”
She continued, “I love Israel with wild ferocity, and I am committed to being part of helping make this country even better than it is. Because being here means that I get to speak out and challenge the status quo the only way I can: Through being a citizen and voting, and through writing.”
Make sure you buy a copy of her new book, “Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered,” which will be out in May 2018.