First Person

08/16/2016 - 12:00 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

It’s rare for great people to turn up in your life at precisely the right moment.

I didn’t recognize it immediately but such was the case when I met Rabbi Neil Kurshan at the Huntington Jewish Center, on Long Island, more than two decades ago. Newly married and anticipating the birth of a child, I was interested in drawing closer to Judaism. 

07/19/2016 - 13:00 | | Editorial Intern | First Person

On the face of it, this was a dream assignment. Second day on the job, and your supervisor asks if you’d like to cover an exclusive, $300-a-head, 17-course (no, that’s not a typo) meal prepared by a top kosher chef. It was a no-brainer.

07/12/2016 - 11:44 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

As I leaned over the bathroom sink, flanked by a pile of grimy kids’ shoes and a homegrown arsenal of tools with which to clean them, I wondered not for the first time what I was doing there. The environment, I reminded myself, a revolt against our culture’s rabid consumerism, the long-lost art of thrift, ah yes. I sliced a toothpick along the muddy grooves of a sandal’s sole and flung the dislodged dirt down the drain. Another one saved.

06/14/2016 - 13:24 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

In one of the parenting fantasies I had before I became a mother, I am standing in a kitchen much larger than mine, leaning on a countertop wiped spotless by an imaginary housekeeper. I am surrounded by a ring of daughters, and together, we are admiring the oozing babkas that have recently emerged from the oven.

05/10/2016 - 13:09 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

On a recent Shabbat afternoon in Warsaw, I walked through the shadows of a Jewish horror show: first, remnant slivers of the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto in someone else’s apartment courtyard; then the site where once stood the majestic Great Synagogue the Nazis destroyed after they suppressed the Ghetto Uprising; next, the outline of the bridge that connected the larger and smaller sections of the ghetto; on to an imposing memorial listing 448 Jewish first names at the Umschlagplatz, from where Warsaw’s Jews were transported on a one-way journey to Treblinka; and, finally, a mass-grave memorial to the victims, adjacent to a huge Jewish cemetery where pre-Shoah giants of Jewish history lie.

04/26/2016 - 11:37 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Dr. Nicolai Sebastian and I met in Auschwitz when I was brought to his miniature “operating room” (originally a broom storage area at the end of our barrack), where a slotted bench served as an operating table.