First Person

09/19/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

It’s a rainy Friday afternoon at my country house on the beautiful, still natural Upper Delaware River, and I’m preparing the Shabbos candlesticks. I open a new box of fresh, pearly white candles and place two into my old brass candlesticks. The candlesticks are not particularly beautiful or elegant; they are somewhat graceful, somewhat clunky. Because they seem old and worn you might think they were handed down to me by my grandmother — they certainly look the part. Alas, that’s not the case.

08/28/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Bang!, was the sound I heard in the middle of my sleep. I jumped up, but my husband Matt wasn’t there. I bolted out of bed and ran down the stairs, tears streaming down my face, praying, “Please God, don’t let this be what I think it is.”

I ran into our home office, where Matt might have been working. No Matt. I noticed the door to our garage was unlocked. I ran into the garage, crying, shaking, and there, I saw my husband of 15 years lying on the ground in a pool of blood surrounding his head. He had finally done what he talked about over the years.

08/14/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

It began last February, when my wife, my daughter, and I went to Israel to visit my son, Max, who had been studying in a yeshiva in Jerusalem for his gap year between high school and college. It was a long-anticipated trip, for which we had planned a fun-filled week. What we hadn’t planned was the sea change in our lives that was about to ensue.

07/24/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

At 4-feet-10, wearing sports goggles, I stood as the smallest captain the eighth-grade basketball team at Yeshivah of Flatbush ever knew.

Like many young Modern Orthodox boys (and girls), I grew up subsumed by sports. I knew the Beckett Sports Card guidebook better than the Bible. When not watching sports, I spent hours on the court, shooting hook shots or making the perfect John Stockton bounce pass. I cried when my team lost, and celebrated in victories I took no part in.

In short, sports was my religion.

07/17/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

A man with a long white beard, dressed in rags, comes about an inch away from my face and says, “I’ve been waiting for you.” I try not to act too startled. I had just finished leading a session on spirituality at a day program for the Jewish homeless, and this would be the first of many such conversations, where social norms disappear amid the schizophrenic street prophets of New York City.

06/26/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person
The dress was perfect. Light worsted yarn woven into glowing blue and green medallions, it fit that elusive category of “transitional” clothing. And, just before Thanksgiving, it was on sale. I didn’t care if it was held over from the summer or orphaned from the fall season. I bought it immediately, threw out the sales slip and put the dress away for the spring. Passover, or maybe Shavuot, I thought.