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Summer 2015

Sisterhood Was Powerful

Confronting generational tensions to build a badass Jewish feminist future. What a breast cancer previvor has to do. This samovar serves only stories. Finding serenity in a convent. My Bukharian mother sold herself into marriage. Summer fiction.

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Summer Fiction

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Material Culture: The Samovar

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My samovar, which now sits in the center of my living room, always rested on a little table in the corner of my parents’ dining room. It’s a no-nonsense peasant affair, barrel-shaped and made of brass. It stands 18 inches high and has a round drip bowl underneath its spout. The samovar was central to... Read more »

Hidden Child: When Caritas Saved a Jewish Girl

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We were leaving again. Fleeing. This time from Megève, a pretty little town in the Alps, near the Swiss border. We took some buses and trains, my mother deciding finally to head for the south of France, which was not yet occupied by the Germans. She decided on the city of Nice. In a big... Read more »

Bride Price: Alexandria, Egypt, 1926

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I am sitting beside my mother’s bed where she now spends all her days, hearing the story of her betrothal for the very last time. Her apartment is on Tchernichovsky Street, in Jerusalem’s Rasco neighborhood, facing the olive tree-studded Valley of the Cross and the hill topped by the sprawling, white complex that is the... Read more »

Panic in a Suitcase

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In the beginning was the nostalgia. That is to say, it started with the end. With memories, anecdotes, old photographs, wafts, vapors. That was the part of Odessa that was mine — the smoke. My family produced no shortage of nostalgic exhaust and I got high off the fumes. Mealtimes, car rides, strolls to Coney Island were... Read more »

I Am A Cancer Previvor

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Cancer runs in my father’s family. Around the time I was born, cancer swept through my paternal grandmother’s generation, leaving no women behind. Among its victims was my grandmother, Hadassah Rubel, a beloved Hebrew and music teacher in her Queens Jewish community. She died of ovarian cancer at age 58, about two years shy of... Read more »

Facts on the Ground

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Einat gazes at her younger sister fiddling with the CD player, trying to find the right song to match the mood of the day. As if the right background music while your house is getting destroyed will make all the difference! She stares out the window, past the greenhouses bare and stripped so that you... Read more »

Gibbous Moon

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In the kitchen, Ziva peered through the oven window. Back when her mother made cookies, ovens didn’t have windows. Her mother would have to open the door and take a peek before her glasses steamed up. The cookies needed another minute, so Ziva went to the windowsill to pick leaves off the mint plant. Outside,... Read more »

Single Jewish Male Seeks…

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  Zach pilfered an issue of New York magazine from the dentist’s waiting room and answered every ad in the “Women Seeking Men” columns that included the words “Single Jewish Female,” “SJF,” or just “Jewish.” Many women were seeking men who were “smart, funny, and financially secure.” Several described themselves as “clever and curvaceous” or... Read more »

Mother Tongue

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Some days I long for the mama-loshen the secret words in my bones my grandpa smoking in the arm chair kvetching about the shmucks in the government and the dreck on the streets. I thought these were English words I listened to, as I piatchked around the dark house,  kibbitzing, because there was nothing else... Read more »

Confronting Generational Tensions to Build Our Badass Jewish Feminist Future

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Watching “Mary Poppins” with my four-year-old daughter one Sunday, I realized how the most remembered songs from that titan of childhood cinema have less to do with women’s rights and more to do with spoonfuls of sugar. And yet the children’s mother, Winifred Banks, sings what may be the world’s most-watched tribute to women’s suffrage.... Read more »

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