First Person

01/05/2016 - 13:55 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

My tefillin-zekl — the small velvet sack in which I store my phylacteries — tells me a story early every morning, when I open it in preparation for davening. 

12/22/2015 - 10:14 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

On Thanksgiving I was reunited with a Vietnamese family with whom I had no contact for more than 30 years. It was a heartwarming reunion and a poignant reminder that aiding immigrants and refugees is not only a matter of advocating enlightened policy, but also should be seen as a personal responsibility — and a wonderful opportunity.

12/15/2015 (All day) | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

I grew up in the small but undaunted Orthodox community of Jackson Heights, back in the 1950s and ’60s. I turned my back on the humble turf, as much for its relentless exhortation of piety as its failure to thrive.

11/16/2015 - 19:00 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

I’ve always been bored by anti-Semitism, contemptuous even, of those who look for it everywhere and then find it. If you look hard enough, you can find anything you want. Anyway, it always seemed to me a thing of the past.

11/09/2015 - 19:00 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

I was behind the mechitza. I did not like it. 

How could it possibly happen, that I, a regular shulgoer in the Orthodox world, would find myself behind the mechitza at a Shabbat service?

10/26/2015 - 20:00 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Politicians who find sport in demonizing immigrants often praise their European ancestors, who came to the United States from abroad. Previous generations of immigrants, after all, supposedly valued work and family, to achieve the American dream. But a recent reading of Kate Simon’s 1982 best-selling memoir “Bronx Primitive” suggested that the Eastern Europeans who passed through Ellis Island in the early 1900s were less admirable than they’ve been depicted.