First Person

01/24/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

About a month ago, I ran into my son’s former kindergarten teacher in the streets of Jerusalem, where we live. “Pinchas misses you,” I told Rebbe Shlomo. He really does. Rebbe Shlomo taught Pinchas to make about seven different kinds of paper airplanes.  

01/17/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

To have known my mother-in-law was to have tasted her cooking.  Unfortunately, I never did.

I was an enigma to her, and she to me, from the very beginning.  With the former Yugoslavia in the throes of violent civil war, I found myself — an observant, then twenty-something girl from the Upper West Side — in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, in the fall of 1992. Her son and I met in the local Jewish community center, where I spent my days at work with Jewish refugees from neighboring Bosnia and he volunteered between medical school exams. 

12/27/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

“Can I feed you?” he asked Joe, impatiently holding lunch and duly aware of the onlooker.

“Get the hell out of here!” Joe snarled, his face red. “You can tell the principal, damn it! Didn’t ask my sister for permission. Son-of-a-bitch,” Joe muttered under his breath.

Joe’s caretaker, Steve, waited for Joe to calm down. He then asked, “Would you like Avram to feed you?” pointing to me. “Of course I want him to feed me!” Joe shouted. “What do you think this is, a chicken coop?”

12/06/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

It is the eighth day following the birth of my baby. I sit upstairs in my home nursing my child in preparation for the vigors of the ceremony that welcomes newborns into the covenant of Israel. A few minutes later, I gently hand the baby to my father and join my mother and my husband, Dan, at the back of the living room downstairs. The baby emerges in my father’s arms to the sound of our guests greeting the child with the traditional Hebrew welcome.  My father sits in the specially designated chair of Elijah, the prophet known for defending the covenant and protecting children.

11/22/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Two years out of college, I was on my third office job, in the fundraising department at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

I was the only religious girl there, the one with the long sleeves and calf-length skirts, the one who mumbled blessings under her breath, the girl who didn’t flirt with anyone. Not that anyone tried to flirt with me. The Israelis had written me off as Other — that religious American who’d moved to Israel a few years ago. Anyway, the secretaries had little status in the hospital hierarchy. People’s eyes glazed over me.

11/15/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Thanksgiving Day always brings Bibi to mind. Bibi, which in Farsi means Grandma, was what my children and all her other grandchildren called my mother. She would buy the very largest turkey she could find, tightly stuff it with saffroned Persian rice, bake endless apple pies and always made sure there were grilled corn-on-the cob, bountiful bowls of jumbo sweet potatoes and even cranberry sauce, which was placed smack in the center of the table. Cranberry sauce was totally unappealing to our Persian palettes and every year was left untouched.