Tag: Merissa Nathan Gerson

A-Salaam Alaykoum

Somewhere between San Francisco and Berkeley I developed a craving for hummus.  Not hippie grocery hummus, not coffee shop hummus, not deli hummus but hummus, the real deal.  I took a gamble with a Google search on my cell phone and followed it far down San Pablo Avenue all the way to a small place… Read more »

The Satin Kippah

Recently at a gas station I saw a kippah on the security camera. It struck me as odd and exciting to see not only a kippah but a woman with a kippah at a Berkeley, CA gas station. It took a moment to register the black dress, the pink belt, and a wave of fear… Read more »

America is wonderful during the week

“America is wonderful during the week, but painful on Shabbat.”  This is what my friend Malika wrote me after her first Shabbat back in America.  I am a Shabbat nut.  I love everything about it, the slowness, the meals, the niggunim.  I love remembering my grandmother and finding my people and feeling part of something… Read more »

Jewish in Israel and America

The difference between being Jewish in Israel and Jewish in America hinges on the perceiver.  In Israel I was either the least or the most Jewish.  Either I knew too many prayers, or too few.  I was either the secular or the Orthodox, and once in a blue moon, rarely, I was simply Jewish, simply… Read more »


On a break from a Hindu Ashram in the Catskills I stopped into Wal-Mart.  Yes, Wal-Mart in the mountains of New York happens to, in addition to an odd myriad of all types of strange people, house the Chasidic population on summer vacation from Brooklyn.  Amidst a sea of Indian gods and goddesses, a frum… Read more »

There are Rules

There are rules, somewhere, about how to be a Chasid on an airplane.  In that same rulebook there are most likely also a set of behavioral norms for a woman in stretch pants lying about in the back of the plane. My leg started swelling on a flight to Budapest.  I went to the flight… Read more »

Ba'al Tshuva

A ba’al tshuva friend suggested I read William Zinsser’s On Writing Well to help clean up my prose.  I read it like bible roulette.  Make a wish, close your eyes, and open to a random page.  It works better with the bible because Torah is a better fortune-telling wisdom-yielder, but it still works.  This week’s… Read more »

I Was In Love With A Medicine Worker

I was in love with a medicine worker. We sat in the mountains at an outdoor café towards the end of my four-month trip to South Africa. We were sealed at that point, two hearts attempting to find a way to gracefully detach. During our meal a station wagon drove up and my mentor got… Read more »

Becoming a Man in my Family

In a hot tub in California I met my cousin Ruthie for the first time. I had known her my entire life, but never like I did in our bathing suits, in the steam, family ditched poolside. We were there for our cousin Mara’s Bat Mitzvah, the whole family, gathered exiles from New Jersey, Florida,… Read more »