First Person

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.
06/12/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

I hated Father’s Day when I was a kid. In the stormy family stew that was my almost-daily diet, “Father” meant “Sid,” and that meant trouble.

05/15/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

When you’re facing a divorce, you cast about for signposts of your identity. You seek indicators of who you were before, and glimmers of the stronger, more empowered person you hope to become.

In my case, newly separated from my non-Jewish husband, I find myself looking to Judaism for a renewed sense of self. Well, not Judaism, exactly — my relationship with the religion hasn’t changed much. I still go to a Reform shul on the occasional Shabbat, alone, as I have since college.

04/17/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Many times people ask, “Do you think it’s nature or nurture?” I always respond by telling them that my love for Israel is most likely a combination of both.