Spring 2016

Are These Sufferings Dear to You?

One twenty-something's disability journey. Should the Jewish community fund fertility? Teaching gunhate to grandsons. A Sephardi polyglot chooses a language. When a woman friend dies. Hard to talk to your daughter about God. Can a feminist love a library?

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Why the Jewish Community Should Fund Fertility


The sun beats down on her as she walks up the steps. Each uphill step a reminder of where she’s been. Each step a physical journey, an emotional climb. You can’t see any of her pain, because it’s hidden behind her positive, helpful, hard-working persona in the community, behind her loving support of her friends,... Read more »

Dressing [and Undressing] the Torah


I rarely frequent synagogues. Even with my father’s yahrzeit, I disliked being lost in the too-fast romp through prayers that left me continually searching for a familiar word once gleaned in Hebrew School. The experience is more treasure hunt than homage or call to remembrance, and it ends in frustration and embarrassment. My husband usually accompanies... Read more »

Talking [and Not Talking] About God


In response to my teasing about her upcoming birthday — a corny, sing-song of “Who said you could be eight?”— my seven-year-old daughter Adina looked up and pointed toward the bright blue sky. “You know,” she said. I paused, then stalled. “What are you pointing at?” I asked. “God,” she said, as though it was an obvious matter... Read more »

So Much More to Sing: On the Death of a Woman Friend


In spring 1984, Ted Solotaroff invited me to La Mama, the downtown experimental theater in New York City, to see a performance by one of his authors. Ted was an eminent editor, my first employer in publishing and an enduring friend. The author was Elizabeth Swados, directing “Jerusalem,” an oratorio she had composed to words in... Read more »

Choosing Which Language to Live In


“I feel closer to an Arab from Morocco than to a Jew from Brooklyn or Boston.” My mother is a Moroccan Jew, born and bred in Tangier, where she also spent most of her life. Her words rang clear as I asked her to leave Morocco for the United States, where I have lived for 18... Read more »

Teaching Gunhate


I’ve noticed that as soon as a precious newborn baby boy is old enough to play games — maybe when he’s two or three — he might pick up a fork or a stick and point it at anyone (even his own grandma) and say “Bang-Bang you’re dead!” So when my little grandson was excitedly tearing at the gift-wrapped... Read more »

McDonald’s Coffee


Gila’s chest constricted. While she is busy thinking what to order coffee online, the feeling is still there. She used to think the first wave of déjà vu might be a false alarm, but now she knew better. Once it crested, there was a minimal amount of time before it came crashing down. She tried... Read more »

The Watch


I knew my mother had truly died when her wristwatch stopped ticking, that cheap little nothing of a watch she bought from a vendor on the street:  watches pinned like butterflies to black velvet, the second hands of the Rolex knockoffsall jerking happily in sync. My mother’s watch was ticking in her jewelry box the... Read more »



Like poetry                      it’s democratic and persistent                                                                      these lines flung from a... Read more »

Lower East Side Library: A Love Affair


On November 18th, 1966, I got my first library card. I had just turned six. We lived on New York’s Lower East Side and our branch was the Seward Park Library. Built in 1909, the red and grey four-story brick building stood near the intersection of East Broadway, Essex Street and Canal. Unless it was raining... Read more »

“Are These Sufferings Dear To You?” My Disability, Its Isolation, and My Journey


Once, the rabbi of the Reconstructionist shul where I grew up told me of a discussion he’d had with other rabbis about the second blessing of the Amidah prayer, “Blessed are You, God, who resurrects the dead”—m’chayeh ha-meitim, in the Hebrew. Since Reconstructionism eschews the traditional Jewish belief in bodily resurrection (at the End of... Read more »

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